Police, SWAT respond to suicide threat; man found dead

St. George police, SWAT team members and detectives responded to the incident at the end of St. James Lane in St. George, Utah, Aug. 2, 2014 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Fourteen St. George Police officers and SWAT team members were staged for some three hours at the end of St. James Lane in St. George Saturday late afternoon after a man left a suicidal message with St. George Police.

At 3:30 p.m., a man called into the St. George Communications Center and left a message saying to come to the end of St. James Lane and find his body, St. George Police Sgt. Sam Despain said. The man’s location was confirmed through cell phone pinging after it appeared he left his phone on, he said.

St. George Police and SWAT team members were dispatched to the end of St. James Lane and police were able to identify the man through the phone conversation. They went to his house to talk to family members and find out additional information about the man.

St. George police, SWAT team members and detectives responded to the incident at the end of St. James Lane in St. George, Utah, Aug. 2, 2014 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

There were 14 personnel who responded to the incident, Despain said, most of them were currently on-duty, and some on-call SWAT officers along with an armored vehicle because of concerns about a vehicle parked in the parking lot near a trailhead on St. James Lane. Officers were unsure whether the vehicle might have something to do with the man they were looking for.

St. George Fire Department and Gold Cross Ambulance were also staged at the meeting house of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 1095 E. St. James Lane.

No evacuations took place for this incident because the location was pretty remote beyond the trailhead which leads to the Virgin River.

“If someone is suicidal, what we want to avoid is the police doing that for them,” Despain said, “suicide by cop.”

In these incidents, police want to gather as much information as they can about the person by checking their residence and speaking to family members.

“History has proved that people can set up ambushes for police officers,” Despain said, “so we don’t just rush into anything. Committing suicide isn’t necessarily against the law, but part of our job is to help save lives. We want to do that safely.”

St. George Police blocked off the end of St. James Lane with their cars for around three hours while officers were staging and taking safety precautions. Police officers were communicating with the man’s family members.

“Just a few moments ago they confirmed that he is deceased, down there at the end of the road,” Despain said, “with what initially appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. However, we are investigating to make sure that there was no foul play involved.”

The man’s name has not been released as family notifications are pending. The cause of death remains under investigation.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by responders on scene and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.


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  • bob August 2, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    well hey, the guy gets points in my book for following through…

  • San August 2, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    How incredibly tragic. RIP

  • Common Occurance August 2, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Shocking how common suicides are in the St George area. So common, that they rarely make any news in the paper other than the city notes of police responding to another suicide. That’s it. Why are there so many suicides in St George and its surrounding area? Isn’t this supposed to a wonderful world of Mayberry with unicorns prancing about and skittles raining from the skies? Excuse my sarcastic comments, but there are serious problematic social issues in your pretentious world, problems your citizens pretend don’t exist or blame others for, such as those darn “outsiders” who refuse to conform to some imaginary idea… Mayberry. It’s terribly sad these people, who either are unable or unwilling to conform, see taking their lives as a final resort.

    • Chris August 3, 2014 at 10:08 am

      Suicide and depression are more common in Utah, as a whole, than the average state, particularly teen suicide. Prescriptions for anti-depressants in Utah are the highest in the nation. Yet, Utah commonly ranks as one of the “happiest” states in surveys that ask residents about their moods. Sounds like a lot of people are not telling the truth, possibly even to themselves.

    • bob August 3, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      yep, all too common in good ol’ utah. I also think it’s in large part because of the intolerance and judgmental nature of mormons and the mormon religion.

      • Ynot August 5, 2014 at 10:55 am

        Bahaha. Calm down!

      • StG Koolaid August 10, 2014 at 8:15 am

        It’s the religious koolaid causing it.

  • lp August 3, 2014 at 10:00 am

    It is entirely too common. I fully agree with you about the reason for it. It is extremely sad still. And I dont give him points for following through. The pain that is put on the rest of the family is tremendous. Prayers for them. I would be losing my mind right now if it was my
    family going through this.

  • Chris August 3, 2014 at 10:03 am

    “Committing suicide isn’t necessarily against the law” As a matter of fact, suicide is against the law in Utah. Disturbing that a police spokesman does not know better.

  • guysmiley August 3, 2014 at 11:58 am

    @Chris There is no statute in Utah Law that states suicide is a crime.

  • tinker toys August 3, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Wow the Officer walking down the trail is quite tha fashionista, with fancy embroidered pants and sweet kicks. Why show up in tactical gear when you can show up in teen clothing.

    • bob August 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      LOL, i hadn’t noticed that…

  • anonymous August 3, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    If it is against the law, please, which law is it? Searching the Utah state code book at http://le.utah.gov/ shows no laws for suicide other than one for life insurance payments. Searching homicide, all results say, “causes the death of another” in the wording. I was unable to find anything saying suicide is against the law.

    That said, it is sad he killed himself and put his family and the community out by his actions.

    Suicide and suicide attempts are a mental health issue, not a crime, that impacts not only the victim ,but their families, and the community.

  • Davebinaz August 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    What’s up with the ‘happy pants’? Embroidered jeans. What’s next, bell bottoms w tie dyed T’s? Add a cool AR to the combo and, well, that’s SOMETHING.

    • bob August 4, 2014 at 10:42 am

      if ur gonna shoot someone with a big gun, might as well do it in style, no?

    • StG Koolaid August 10, 2014 at 8:16 am

      Showing his kids’ friends how cool he can be by dressing and acting like a teener?

  • Bender August 4, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Aye Yai Yai, here’s hoping the guy in the top image, wielding the weapon, has better trigger discipline than he has fashion discipline. Perhaps he was just called off undercover duty in a douchebag street gang and had no time to change clothes?

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