ST. GEORGE – A St. George man was taken into custody by police late Tuesday morning after an 11-hour standoff that started shortly after midnight.
UPDATED 5:15 p.m. The man involved in the standoff has been identified as Guy Fotheringham, according to a statement from the St. George Police Department.
The events leading up to the standoff between police and Fotheringham began with an altercation between Fotheringham and a neighbor, during which Fotheringham “illegally entered or remained on the neighbors property and broke property belonging to the neighbor,” according to the statement.
After Fotheringham returned to his own property, a domestic dispute broke out between him and a woman identified in the statement as a “cohabitant.” During this dispute, Fotheringham retrieved firearms and began discharging them, according to the statement. It is believed two firearms were used – an AR-15 and a .32-caliber pistol. Police estimate between eight and 10 rounds, and possibly more, were fired during the incident.
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Fotheringham will be booked on charges of criminal trespassing, criminal mischief, domestic violence criminal mischief, domestic violence threats, unlawful discharge of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a restricted person.
Police blocked access to the Hillside Palms RV and Mobile Home Park on 600 East, north of St. George Boulevard, Tuesday morning as they worked to get a presently unnamed suspect out of a trailer home. The standoff was triggered by a 911 call alerting police that several shots had been fired inside a residence at approximately 12:30 a.m.
About 20 residents in the vicinity of the suspect’s trailer, along with guests staying at the Coronada Inn and Suites hotel, were evacuated, and police sent in a crisis negotiator and tactical teams to contain the area. As part of the containment, St. George Boulevard was shut down between 400 East and 700 East, though it eventually reopened after 6 a.m. The Red Cross was also on scene to aid the evacuees.
There had been some reports circulating that the suspect left his trailer in the early morning and was wandering St. George Boulevard with a gun and that a manhunt was underway. St. George Police Captain Mike Giles said that was untrue.
“He was in the trailer from start to finish,” Giles said during a press conference following the incident. “He didn’t come out until just now when he surrendered to the officers.”
Early on in the incident, the suspect’s wife was in the trailer with him, but he let the police take her away from the trailer, St. George Vet Center Readjustment Counselor Bruce Solomon said. Police called in Solomon when they learned more of the suspect’s background, he said. Solomon helps fellow veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues. He has also been instrumental in the establishment of a Veterans Judicial Initiative in Washington County this year that is aimed at assisting veterans facing legal issues.
St. George Police set up an incident command center in the parking lot of the Sunburst Shopping Center on 700 East and Tabernacle while the standoff unfolded.
Access to 600 East north of St. George Boulevard, as well as Rite Aid and Perks!, was blocked as the standoff commenced. The businesses remained closed until the situation was resolved.
“We always have crazy stuff that happens here all the time,” said Tessa Brown, a supervisor/manager at RiteAid, who was waiting for the situation to clear so she and others could go to work.
Earlier this year, there was a standoff between St. George Police and a man staying at the Coronada Inn and Suites that was triggered by a noise complaint. In 2012, police were also involved in a highly visible drug bust in the same area.
Brown also said she was familiar with the suspect involved, as a family member of his is a regular costumer at Rite Aid. She said the man is former military and had been going through a rough time the last few months.
“He served in the U.S. Army and Air Force,” Solomon said.
According to Veterans Affairs records, Solomon said, the man is 59 years old.
“He is experiencing distress and, right now, he claims PTSD, and we’re checking all that out,” Solomon said. “He said he stopped taking his medication and began to self-medicate with alcohol.”
Solomon said he was grateful to the police for contacting him once they learned the man may be a veteran with PTSD.
As the incident progressed, Giles said, police attempted to communicate verbally with the suspect yet received no reply from inside the trailer for a period of time. Pepper spray was also introduced as an alternative to the subject’s nonresponsiveness.
During parts of the standoff, a female police officer attempted to communicate with the suspect via a bullhorn.
Solomon praised how the negotiator on the bullhorn dealt with the suspect.
“She was just wonderful with him and absolutely committed,” he said.
However, as no response was received from the man, police turned to a different tactic to ensure someone was still in the trailer.
“That received no response, as well, so after awhile of trying to do that we introduced additional rounds of the pepper spray in a powdered form,” Giles said.
The SWAT team on scene fired at least four rounds of powdered pepper spray into the trailer between 11 a.m. and 11:10 a.m. Shortly after that, the SWAT team began approaching the trailer.
The suspect, a white adult male, exited the trailer with hands up. He was surrounded by SWAT officers and subsequently taken into custody without further incident at approximately 11:25 a.m.
The suspect was the only one in the trailer. No one was injured during the course of the standoff, Giles said.
“We’re very pleased with how this turned out,” Giles said. “It’s been a long morning for the officers involved … Everybody’s going home, everybody’s safe. He’s going to get some medical treatment and be evaluated, and I don’t see it happening any better than it has. This is a good resolution.”
Solomon said he was also happy with how the police handled the situation.
“Officers treated (the suspect) with utmost gentleness when he came out,” Solomon said. “He was very gently treated, with bracelets, and then, as they promised him, I was immediately given access to him as soon as he was handcuffed.”
As an investigation is currently underway, Giles deferred providing detailed information regarding the suspect. Additional information will be released as the investigation progresses, he said.
The St. George Police Department was the primary agency involved in the incident, with a crew from the Utah Department of Transportation providing traffic barricades during the standoff.
St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic and Assistant Editor Cami Cox Jim contributed to this story.
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