ST. GEORGE – A St. George man involved in a 10-hour standoff with police Tuesday – and later identified as a military veteran who may be struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder – made his first appearance in court via a video feed Thursday. If the suspect is found to be suffering from PTSD, he may be a candidate for the newly instituted veterans court, which has been established to help veterans with legal issues.
Guy Roy Fotheringham, 59, appeared in 5th District Court via video from the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility Thursday afternoon for an initial appearance and to have charges read to him relating to Tuesday’s incident. During the hearing, it was determined Fotheringham qualified for a public defender, and Judge John Walton was assigned Michael Lastowski to be his defense attorney.
Fotheringham faces a charge of second-degree felony criminal mischief; three third-degree felonies for aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm by a restricted person, and discharge of a firearm; and a class-A misdemeanor for criminal trespassing. Walton set Fotheringham’s bail at $25,000.
The charges stem from incidents that took place shortly after midnight Tuesday and dragged on to about 11:20 a.m. According to a probable cause statement filed in support of Fotheringham’s arrest, Fotheringham had been in an argument with his wife and allegedly threatened to kill her and her pets. The woman was able to contact police and retreat from the trailer the two lived in while Fotheringham’s back was turned. She told police Fotheringham was ill and hadn’t been taking his medication, which was causing emotional stress.
Earlier the previous evening, Fotheringham allegedly went to a neighbor’s home “and confronted him in an agitated manner,” according to the probable cause statement. He is alleged to have thrown the neighbor’s door open, causing damage to an outdoor cable box. Fotheringham then entered the residence without invitation and didn’t immediately leave when asked repeatedly by the neighbor, though he eventually did leave and return to his trailer.
Fotheringham proceeded to fire off several rounds from a firearm inside his trailer, which led to police being called in. Officers set up a perimeter around the trailer and called in SWAT and negotiators. Fotheringham stayed inside for the next 10 hours, finally surrendering after police fired powdered pepper spray into the trailer.
Bruce Solomon, a readjustment counselor with the St. George Vet Center, was on scene when Fotheringham was taken into custody. He was called in by police once they learned the suspect was a veteran with potential PTSD issues.
Solomon was able to speak briefly with Fotheringham but has yet to evaluate him for possible PTSD as of Thursday evening. He said he is currently waiting to meet with Fotheringham’s lawyer to make the proper arrangements.
Fotheringham is a veteran of the United States Navy and Air Force, Solomon said, adding that Veterans Affairs is aware of the man’s case.
“It’s not his first rodeo with the VA,” Solomon said.
Once matters are cleared with the defense, Solomon said, he will evaluate Fotheringham to see if he fits the needed criteria to qualify for the Veterans Judicial Initiative, or veterans court.
“The key is if he has had a traumatic experience” while in military service, Solomon said.
Part of the evaluation will involve questions relating to the nature of Fotheringham’s military service and where he may have been deployed.
Solomon said he is hoping something comes out during the evaluation that points to potential PTSD; if not, veterans court may not be an option.
“It’s a pretty stiff process,” Solomon said.
While combat veterans may be the ones primarily thought of when it comes to sufferering PTSD, Solomon said it could be any kind of traumatic experience that occurs at any point during military service.
“It’s like a sliver that goes in and hurts like hell,” he said, adding that it’s a sliver that festers with infection the longer it’s left under the skin untreated. “That’s exactly what PTSD is like.”
By no means is the veterans court meant to be a “get of jail free card,” Solomon added.
Pulling that sliver out may not be wholly possible either, he said, but it can be treated.
“The best I can do is help them manage it,” Solomon said.
If Fotheringham qualifies for the veterans court, charges associated with the standoff could be put on hold and eventually even expunged upon successful completion of a court-mandated treatment program.
“The structure is really tight and the rules are strict. It’s a one-strike deal — one strike gets you the clinical visits doubled for the rest of the program,” Solomon said in a previous interview with St. George News.
“Three times of being late gets you canned,” had added, which is to say the veteran who accesses the new veterans court system may be reassigned to the standard judicial process.
Fotheringham’s next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 15 at 2:30 p.m.
St. George News reporter Aspen Stoddard contributed to this story.
- Suspect named in police standoff; STGnews Videocast
- News LIVE: Police standoff downtown; unfolding incident; updating 11:35 a.m., following
- Noise complaint leads to SWAT standoff at hotel
- Washington County Veterans Court, now in session
- Veterans, spouses, community learn about living with PTSD; ‘it’s a journey’
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