Family friend says man killed in shootout with burglary suspect was ‘wonderful’ husband and father

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MILLCREEK, Utah - A father and an alleged burglar are dead after shooting each other in a neighborhood near Skyline High School.

Jacobs family

Jacobs family

Officers said the incident started when a man police identified as 34-year-old Jesse L. Bruner tried to break into a home near 3700 South and 3100 East at about 2 a.m.

Witnesses told police the homeowner, 47-year-old Russell "Rusty" Reed Jacobs, forced the man outside through the front door and chased him down the street.

Police said the men ran north and got about three houses down when Bruner turned around and shot the father, Jacobs, with a sawed-off shotgun.

The father was then able to return fire with his revolver and killed the burglar.

Jacobs' 16-year-old son heard the commotion, followed and witnessed his father get shot.

Authorities said the son tried to stop the bleeding and help his father along with neighbors, including a former federal agent and a doctor.

Paramedics also tried to save Jacobs for about an hour, but the father died from the gunshot wound.

Family friend Terry Howell spoke about the tragic story.

"[The son] held his dad in his arms while he died... and that's something you don't forget," Howell said.

Howell also spoke about the sort of man Jacobs was.

"That man is a top-quality human being," he said. "I'd be proud to call him my friend, my neighbor, anything."

Jacobs was a family man, according to Howell.

"He was a wonderful husband, a wonderful father, and a wonderful human being all rolled into one," he said.

Officers said burglaries like this in the middle of the night are not common, and police are investigating the motive behind the break in.

"It's a terrible tragedy," Jim Winder, Salt Lake County Sheriff, said. "We're still trying to piece together why this suspect approached this home. It appears really random."

Police said Bruner has a criminal history including weapons violations.

Officers said they would like to speak with anyone who may have seen Bruner over the last few days at (385)468-9820.

54 comments

  • Lint fisher

    Sad that Dad didn’t learn that the gun you have for PROTECTION is not there to seek revenge, or get the TV back. If the guy is running down the street with your 2yr old under his arm, by all means give chase. You’ve done your job if you’ve gotten him out of the house, and protected your family, besides, if you give chase, how do you know there isn’t an accomplice waiting to go inside and finish the job.
    If you choose to keep a firearm for protection, one of the most important things you can do is think ahead of time a number of possible scenarios that could play out. You won’t think of all of them, but you’ll start to think about what’s important , and what doesn’t matter about a possible incident. You’ll never be able to formulate a rational plan in the heat of the moment. My heart goes out to these folks. Please don’t get a gun without training.

    • Terry

      Sad for the family. Hard to say what you should beyond the limited protection of the family, but I would be inclined to believe that Rusty prevented Bruner from committing further crimes on victims less able to confront the thief; Bruner was willing to break into a house in the middle of night with a shotgun, its logical to assume that a tragic ending was inevitable and I thank Rusty for going beyond a limited response, given Bruner’s willingness to commit crime. Again so sad his family suffered due to the actions on one man, Bruner.

      • Yuujin

        It is sad for people to lose someone so close to them like that. You never think it will be you, but it has to be someone right? However I think there is more to this story that we don’t know yet. So many things don’t add up. @PB&J’s comment a ways down sums this up perfectly. I wish the best to both families who lost someone.

  • ANOTHERANOTHERBOB

    Sawed-off shotguns with a barrel less than 18 in. in length are illegal. Hillary Clinton and the liberal crowd have the solution: Pass more anti-gun legislation.

    • Bob of all Bobs

      So tell me this……if the father would of just place his ego off to the side and just want back into his home where his family was instead of going trying to be john wayne as he case the dude down, would he still be alive today? No guns were necessary in this scenario. What a waste of life.

      • Lint fisher

        Pretty sure from the statements that the fathers gun was used to get e creep out of the house. Nice try b.o.a.b.

  • ANOTHERBOB

    We all make this world a better place. Some because we came, and some like Mr. Bruner because they got sent home early to their Maker because of bad behavior.

  • bob

    Do NOT chase criminals. Shoot him while he’s in your home, but if he gets out your involvement is done. Nothing good can come of chasing the guy.

  • Hermena

    Got what he deserved/too bad he had to take a good man with him.Who knows how many of his family would have been killed if the father did not have a GUN to protect his family.Although if the democrats have their way,
    ONLY the criminals will have guns and this whole family may well have wound up dead.Do you think obama will try
    to use this shooting to his political agenda.Nahhh,nothing to be gained here.Both involved are caucasian…and in this case the gun saved lives….I am surprised the liberal media was not able to suppress this.

    • Yuujin

      Bruner bangs on Jacobs door in the middle of the night, something compels Jacobs to chase him down the street with a gun. Bruner and Jacobs kill each other.

      What part of chasing a man down the street with a gun is self defense or protecting his family? It sounds more like to me that two men picked a fight neither could win, and everyone lost. Now both families lost a dad.

  • Mike Smith

    Not true. I have 2. One is classified as a “pistol” as it has no stock (serbu) the other has a stock and required NFA registration as a “any other weapon”. However both are legal. Now, that said, it is more than likely, a criminal doesn’t care about the law before he takes a hacksaw to a shotgun.

  • Jgo

    How could any of you say your glad some one is dead what if it was your son or brother who chose the wrong path would you be glad he is dead you people are what’s wrong with the world today

    • bob

      So you weep for Hitler, do you? He was abused as a child.

      You’re right about one thing: He CHOSE this path. I’m glad he’s dead. Because that means he can’t harm any more innocent people.

      Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

    • ANOTHERANOTHERBOB

      This rabid killer had no place in decent society. And no JGO, you have it backwards. Animals like Bruner are doing everything in their power to destroy what is good and decent. This world is much better off with him gone.

  • Bob of all Bobs

    And just think……if the father would of just allowed the burglar to run away, since at that moment the family was no longer in any danger, the father would still be alive. But instead what we have here is yet another gun owner who felt he needed to use his 2nd amendment to make a point. A point that cost him his life.
    Guns don’t make us any safer.

    • bob

      Don’t think so? Riddle me this: How many more homes will that maggot burglarize? What are the chances that he’ll shoot someone?

      ZERO is the correct answer to both questions, in case you’re still trying to figure it out.

      We are safer.

    • bob

      Let’s check your intellectual honesty. I want you to put it in writing that the police are NEVER to respond to any of your calls while armed. No matter what happens nobody is allowed to help you by using a firearm.

      Then deliver a copy to all the local LEAs.

      Until then you’re a hypocrite.

      • Lint fisher

        Pot calling the kettle black? Didn’t you just say guns don’t make us safer? So we aren’t qualified to use one, but instead call the police that arrive with , oh! guess what? A GUN to make us safer and the bad guy goes away.

    • DAN GRAY

      Outlawing handguns would definitely make life safer for criminals like Jesse Bruner. You may be on to something there.

      • Yuujin

        There’s one thing I guess we can agree on Dan. Acquiring weapons will always be possible for those who don’t follow the law. Taking away legal weapons doesn’t make anyone safer.

  • Jeff

    Who knows what would have happened if didn’t intervene. Neighbors could have been in terrible danger if this low life had gotten away. Horrible people everywhere these days it seems. Rest in peace and may the family, especially the young son who witnessed evil at work, know his dad did the right thing. What a sad day!

  • ANOTHERBOB

    @BOB OF ALL BOBS
    At On 27, 2005 The US Supreme Court ruled that police do not have a constitutional duty to protect a person from harm, even a woman who had obtained a court-issued protective order against a violent husband making an arrest mandatory for a violation.

    Give it a rest One Of Many Bobs

  • Sad

    I have known Mr. Bruner and his family for over 20 years. Jesse had some huge demons that he couldn’t get rid of. It’s a tragic loss for his friends and family as well as the Dad and his family and friends. I do not agree with Jesse’s life style but I know he came from a loving family who tried everything in their power to help Jesse. Please keep your comments respectful for BOTH families involved in this terrible tragedy.

    • Yuujin

      I’m glad to see not everyone here is blindly raging. I never really knew Jesse myself. But I know those around him, friends, family, kids. By no means is this event a win now that a suspected low life is dead. Everyone lost here, from all sides.

      • Kayla

        I didn’t know Jesse personally. But I know my dad and uncle may have (their friends knew him). It’s good to see that someone can look past those burdens he had and see who he truly is. Most people come from “perfect families” and don’t realize that addiction can make you a total different person and it’s an everyday fight to be your normal self. At least coming from someone who has addicts as family members. That’s how I see it. May he rest in peace.

      • Yuujin

        @Kayla It is always sad to lose someone to a life style like that. I didn’t know Jesse personally, but his son is a relative of mine. I care deeply about him. It hurts to think about someone so young and innocent losing their dad. And that goes for the Jacobs family as well. I don’t want him growing up thinking his dad was a bad person. He made mistakes in life. But he was still a dad who loved his kids.

  • Yuujin

    Media trying to sell this so hard…and everyone in the comments jumping the gun. Nobody knows yet why Jesse was there, it is NOT confirmed that he was a burglar. As the police even pointed out, it is very strange. Nobody knows why he was there, why he had a gun, why the father had a gun, or why he felt compelled to chase him. Let the police finish their investigation. Both of these men were loving fathers.
    My prayers out to both families who lost a dad today.

    • DAN GRAY

      That face, coupled with possession of a sawed-off shotgun, tells the whole story. Bruner wasn’t there on a Friends of Scouting fund raiser.

      • Yuujin

        He’s by no means a saint, but don’t think he just picked a random house to bang on the front door in the middle of the night. Something brought him there, and something compelled the father to follow him down the street with a gun, even though he didn’t have anything.
        If he were a burglar, don’t you think he would have picked a nicer neighborhood? If he were out for blood, why not sneak in? Instead of banging on the front door yelling, and let the man chase him down the street with a gun before turning on him.
        Tattoos don’t define people. The fact that you think appearance defines a person just shows how blindly ignorant people can be. He’s made mistakes in the past, including the one that got him killed. But don’t act like you know someone based off appearance alone. You don’t know him, his past, his story, or the meaning behind any scars or tattoos he might have.

      • Yuujin

        No you are right. Reasonable for him to have a gun with him if he thought someone was breaking in. I would do the same. If you haven’t yet I would recommend reading the updated article. Gives a little bit more insight to what happened. Still some things left as a mystery but, the dead is dead. I guess there’s no point in digging into it too far.

  • big john stankus

    The dead Perp looked like a circus clown with all that ink…..what an idiot. Glad the homeowner did all of us a favor by removing the inked-up derelict from the gene pool.

  • PB&J

    There has to be more to this story. The events as described make no sense.

    No burglar or home invader pounds on the door without understanding that he is going to awaken the occupants. This sounds far more like someone enraged with the occupant intending on a confrontation. If his intent was to kill the occupants or Jacobs, he would have been better off to break in silently and do the deed. It could be a mistaken house I suppose.

    Next, it appears once the burglar was confronted he fled, and why would Jacobs be chasing a stranger who is holding a sawed off shotgun even if the homeowner is armed ? Again this sounds more like something between people who know each other.

    Finally, if the burglar is running away, doesn’t he also have a right to defend himself from an armed pursuer? To be fatally wounded from a sawed off shotgun pretty much requires that you be very close so it wasn’t like he was being pursued from far away by Jacobs with the intent to merely direct law enforcement or otherwise collar the burglar.

    Even if the pursuing homeowner has a hand gun and is intent on shooting the burglar it can be done safely from 30 feet, well out of reach of a fatal sawed off shotgun blast. None of this makes any sense, except in the case of a fight between two people who know each other.

    People on here demonizing Bruner as a dirtbag and criminal should wait for more facts. It may well be that he was angry with Jacobs about a legitimate issue, and though his hands would not be clean in a confrontation like this, should not be blamed for defending himself from an armed pursuer chasing him down a public street close enough to be within seconds of being physically attacked.

    There is more to this story, wait for it

  • Kayla

    It’s sad too see two families lose a love one. I didn’t know either of these men personally. As a daughter, I couldn’t imagine losing my father. I would lose my mind. Being a family member of addicts and studying in the addictions field, I think most overlook the fact that when someone is suffering from an addiction they become a different person, an addiction will make you do things you would never do if you weren’t suffering. It’s very unfortunate that an addiction claimed another life and an innocent one in the process. If you are struggling with addiction, reach out and get help, even to a stranger someone will help you. Rest in Peace to both of these men.

    • Kayla

      Another thing, these news articles are way over rated. They will twist the story to make it something it isn’t. Don’t believe everything you read online. This story was made to make someone look worse than they truly may be. I have had people I know personally make the “news” for things they’ve done wrong, and I’ve seen many articles where the “story” was completely false from what truly happened. Not everything you read online is true.

      • Yuujin

        I agree completely. I believe both of these men were loving fathers. This isn’t a story of the good guy vs the bad guy. It’s a loss for everyone.
        The sad part about media distorting things, is it sells. Viewers are often simple minded enough to buy it without asking questions. I mean just look at all these accusing comments. Everyone just jumped on the FOX13 bandwagon. Saying things like “Animals like Bruner are doing everything in their power to destroy what is good and decent”. They eat it up! Everyone immediately grabbed their pitch forks and started blindly marching…

  • Lisa Ceniceros

    I suggest reading the KSL article. I generally prefer Fox 13, but my boss pointed out that there was more information in the KSL article; there is more information and insight into what really happened. I was shocked and sickened to see this on the news last night. I knew Rusty through URS and he just counseled me a few months ago about my retirement savings. This is a terrible way to hear this kind of news about someone that you knew in a professional context. I am extremely sad for Rusty’s family. Terrible news to hear about anyone, really, I guess it just hits you differently when it’s someone that you personally know.

  • Bob the Wiser

    This is why people are advised not to pursue suspects over property crimes. These idiots had a shootout in the middle of a residential area and they were (luckily) the only ones killed. Their bullets could have taken out someone’s child. It’s unfortunate that the family was robbed, but the dead father escalated the situation by giving chase. If he’d handled the situation with reason rather than turning it into a testosterone-fueled d!ck measuring contest, he’d be alive today.

    My heart goes out to the families of both of the deceased. But for the idiocy of both men, their families wouldn’t be grieving tonight.

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