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.
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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