Suicidal man arrested for threatening to blow up hospital

Stock photo | St. George News

CEDAR CITY — A man is in police custody after threatening to blow up the Valley View Medical Center in Cedar City Wednesday.

David Torrey booking photo posted Feb.4, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Iron County Sheriff's Office, St. George News
David Torrey, booking photo posted Feb. 4, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

On Wednesday, officers from the Cedar City Police Department responded to Valley View Medical Center, 1303 N. Main St., after receiving reports of a disorderly man, Officer Isaac Askeroth said in a probable cause statement supporting the arrest. The man, identified as 22-year-old David Torrey, was allegedly throwing items, yelling and attempting to harm himself.

“I observed David yelling profanities, hitting his head with his fist and viewed him try and choke himself with a sheet,” Askeroth said in the statement. “David admitted himself into Valley View Medical Center because he was suicidal.”

While officers interviewed Torrey, he allegedly told them he would return to the hospital with bombs and blow it up if he was not given medical help, the statement said. After he was arrested, Torrey again allegedly told officers he was serious and would return to the hospital with bombs.

Upon his arrival at the Iron County Jail, Torrey also told officers he would build small bombs with timed detonators and place them in trash cans throughout the building, according to the statement.

“He stated he would search the internet for instructions on how to do this,” Askeroth said in the statement.

Torrey was previously arrested in Hurricane on April 17, 2014, following an incident in which he made threats against his parents and stated he wanted to to kill President Barack Obama, according to a probable cause statement supporting that arrest. After the arrest, Torrey underwent a medical evaluation, and two different doctors found him mentally competent to face charges.

Torrey later pleaded guilty to one class A misdemeanor for criminal mischief, two class B misdemeanors for threatening violence, and another class B misdemeanor for assault. The judge suspended Torrey’s jail sentence of 904 days and gave him credit for 90 days time served. He was also sentenced to 24 months supervised probation with the requirement he was to obtain a mental health, domestic violence and anger management evaluation.

While the current case against Torrey may seem abnormal, Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett said he will approach it the same as any other case and adjust his approach as new evidence or events come to light.

Typically, Garrett said, the defense attorney is the one who requests a competency evaluation in cases such as this. While he is not completely familiar with Torrey’s previous offenses, Garrett said, he would not be surprised to see Torrey’s attorney request an evaluation, based on his past.

Because Torrey made repeated threats to use bombs, which are considered weapons of mass destruction in Utah, he is currently being charged with making terroristic threats, Garrett said. Even if Torrey would not have been capable of carrying out such a plan, the basic fact that he threatened it is enough to charge him.

Though this specific situation did not play out smoothly, the ER is considered a safe place for those who may be at risk for suicide or self-harm, Valley View Medical Center Emergency Room Dr. Darrell Wilson said.

“In the ER, we have the capability to access lots of different people, lots of social programs (and) lots of medical programs,” Wilson said. “So, it’s certainly a good place to bring somebody if there is really a concern over life or injury because we are equipped to handle all those issues all at once.”

Oftentimes, Wilson said, there are signs that may indicate when a person is at risk for suicide or self-harm. Those at risk may outright say they are sad and having a hard time; indications can also be as small as changes in their mood, or a person who is usually upbeat becoming quiet and withdrawn.

If a person is taken to the ER with these issues — or even wishes to self-admit — they would not need to go into extreme detail about their problems, Wilson said. They could come in, explain they are having some personal problems or are feeling depressed, anxious or suicidal, and they would be taken care of.

“It’s treated confidentially, and it’s done respectfully,” Wilson said. “There really is help. It’s always sad to see someone that doesn’t realize there’s help or is afraid or embarrassed to access the help.”

At the time of this publication, Torrey remains incarcerated at the Iron County Jail. He is charged with one third-degree felony for making a threat of terrorism and one infraction for disorderly conduct. His bail for release stands at $5,000.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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3 Comments

  • sagemoon February 11, 2015 at 9:02 am

    I’m glad this guy had enough presence of mind to go to the hospital seeking help. I hope he gets the help he needs.

  • Dalene February 12, 2015 at 1:28 am

    Valley view has a history of turning away suicidally depressed people who are sent there for help by police, doctors, therapists, as well as any who go in by themselves hoping to get help. But, because mental health issues are even more protected than general health information, you’ll never be able to find out just how bad it is there. Truly sad.

    • Car4sale February 12, 2015 at 10:52 pm

      DALENE we had a family member there for treatment and assistance and you are right. I’m not going to say anything.. people have no idea how bad it is there

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