CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Why did the FBI shoot a man in Provo, the same day President Biden landed in Salt Lake City?

Aug 10, 2023, 5:00 AM | Updated: 8:58 am

Law enforcement agents confer at the home of Craig Deeleuw Robertson who was shot and killed by FBI...

Law enforcement agents confer at the home of Craig Deeleuw Robertson who was shot and killed by FBI agents in Provo on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023. Robertson posted threatening comments about President Joe Biden hours before the president was scheduled to visit Utah. Photo credit: Laura Seitz/Deseret News

PROVO, Utah — On a balmy Wednesday morning of this week, at the end of a Cul de Sac with children’s bikes in the front yard and weathered wind chimes hanging from porches, neighbors awoke at 6 a.m. to a loud command:

“Craig Robertson come out with your hands up. This is the FBI.” 

Moments later a racket of gunfire rang across the neighborhood. 

“I grabbed my kid to take him downstairs [to safety]… then all this really loud banging starts,” one witness told KSL. 

If you took a picture of the sleepy street, you would be hard-pressed to guess where this suburban American neighborhood was on the map. 

“Six rounds go off in pretty quick succession, and then the SWAT team you hear [him] yell ‘Shots fired! Shots fired! He has a gun!’ and then a whole bunch more shots,” the witness says they lost count of how many fired.

The small Utah community on the southern end of the Wasatch Front is traditionally known for the BYU Cougars or beautiful canyons that look over the sprawling city. 

However, it became the stage for the closing scene of the life of longtime resident Craig Robertson. 

Robertson had fitted his front door so securely that in order to enter his home, the FBI needed to use a breaching vehicle according to witnesses. 

Once the gunfire had subsided, the deafening sound of silence suffocated the neighborhood according to the witness. The witness also watched law enforcement carry Robertson’s body out onto the sidewalk and perform first aid. 

“You could tell it was pointless,” they said. 

“They put a sheet over him… they left him there, just bleeding through the sheet.” 

Who was Craig Robertson?

Craig Robertson is a heavyset man in his 70s who required a cane to walk. According to friends in the community, he lived with and cared for his adult son who has a disability. His son was recently in the hospital after suffering a stroke. 

People who knew him well, like Travis Clark, were shaken by the news of the shootout. 

 

Tim Rich, left, and Travis Clark talk about Craig Robertson at the Provo Central Stake center in Provo on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023. FBI agents shot and killed Craig Robertson while serving search and arrest warrants at the residence. Robertson allegedly posted threatening comments about President Joe Biden hours before the president was scheduled to visit Utah.

“He was just a great big teddy bear of a guy,” Travis told KSL. 

“Craig was the financial clerk for gosh, nearly a decade here [at] the Pioneer Second Ward, I was the executive secretary for five years so I knew him really well.” 

In the shade of the church across the road from Robertson’s home, still crawling with federal law enforcement, crime scene investigators, local cops and media, Travis was noticeably rattled.

“He was quick-witted, funny, he loved doing woodworking projects… he’d always pull out his phone or tablet and show you what he had worked on… they were really beautiful things,” Travis said, his voice giving away his sadness. 

A Darker Side

As the story was unfolding, KSL obtained a federal criminal complaint filed against Robertson on Wednesday. 

The indictment charges him with making interstate threats against federal law enforcement and making threats against the President, who only hours after Robertson’s death, landed in Salt Lake City. 

One recent threat posted to his Facebook page read: “Perhaps Utah will become famous this week as the place a sniper took out Biden the Marxist”.

“I mean we knew he was conservative. And we knew he liked guns, sometimes he’d show us his latest build and latest gun,” Travis said. 

“But this is Utah, everybody has you know conservative opinions and likes guns, 

“You know sometimes he would tell an off-color joke, a political off-color joke, but he’s of the boomer generation.” 

The federal court documents reveal numerous examples of public threats against Democrat leaders and the President. There were a number of photos of firearms he allegedly built that he captioned “My democrat eradicators”. 

On March 24 of this year, Robertson also made antagonistic posts directed at the FBI themselves that read: “To my friends in the Federal Bureau of Idiots: I know you’re reading this, and you have no idea how close your agents came to “Violent Eradication”. According to the documents, this referenced a conversation FBI agents had with Robertson just five days prior. 

Oblivious to his posts

On Monday, he posted to Facebook “I hear Biden is coming to Utah. Digging out my old ghillie suit and cleaning the dust of the M24 sniper rifle. Welcome, Buffoon-in-chief”.

The friends and neighbors who spoke to KSL were oblivious to his posts. Some were even surprised that he had social media. 

 

A Donald Trump supporter displays an anti-Joe Biden flag toward law enforcement agents as they investigate at the residence of Craig Deeleuw Robertson in Provo on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023. Photo credit: Laura Seitz/Deseret News

One thing is clear, most of the community is finding out about Craig’s online behavior after his death.

To them, Craig Robertson was an old man, with health issues and a walking stick who looked after his disabled son. And sat in the same spot at church every Sunday and made “beautiful” furniture. 

To the FBI, he was a man with access to a large number of high-powered weapons who made too many violent death threats against them and the President. \

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Why did the FBI shoot a man in Provo, the same day President Biden landed in Salt Lake City?