Man arrested on terrorism charge for sending letter containing powdery substance

Washington City and St. George firefighters respond to test an unknown substance sent in a letter to a resident, Washington City, Utah, June 11, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY — A local man was arrested on suspicion of a terrorism offense after allegedly sending a Washington City resident a threatening letter that contained an unknown powdery substance.

Washington City and St. George firefighters respond to test an unknown substance sent in a letter to a resident, Washington City, Utah, June 11, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Brent Turner, 58, of Washington City, was charged with second-degree felony threat of terrorism as well as two misdemeanor counts of violating a protective order, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of his arrest. He appeared Friday in 5th District Court.

The charges stem from an incident Tuesday when a resident called police after receiving a threatening letter in an envelope that also contained an unknown, powdery substance, which an analysis revealed was sugar.

The call triggered a multi-agency response when the package was declared a possible hazardous material and Washington City Police and Fire units were dispatched along with Washington County Emergency Services and a special operations squad truck.

Officials contacted the FBI because the substance was considered a potential bio-threat at the time.

Even though the material turned out to be neither  dangerous or deadly, Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams said Tuesday, these types of incidents are treated seriously to protect the community, until additional information is gathered.

Brent Allen Turner booking photo, Washington County, Utah, June 13, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Through the course of the investigation officers identified Turner as the individual responsible for sending the threatening letter, the report said. The defendant was spotted by police Thursday on Telegraph and he was taken into custody during a traffic stop.

During an interview with detectives Turner allegedly admitted to sending the letter, which also violated a protective order filed in May.  An earlier violation was reported June 6, according to police.

Turner was transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility where he remains on $13,900 bail as this report publishes.

Tuesday’s incident was one of a number of times he is alleged to have harassed two individuals, according to a civil complaint filed last month in 5th District Court. The complaint claims the defendant has a history of sending harassing and defamatory letters to the couple.

One such letter closed with “… and now you must pay the price.”

In another letter Turner allegedly accused the couple of being in possession of DDT, an insecticide banned in the United States, prompting police to respond to their home.

According to the complaint, Turner has “engaged in ongoing threatening behavior” toward the couple.

It also says Turner published statements that one of the individuals “participates in satanic rituals, including killing babies and throwing their bodies down water wells.”

Turner has been accused of monitoring the couple by driving slowly up and down the street near the home and stopping to watch the residence on a number of occasions.

Two separate civil stalking injunctions were filed against Turner May 6 and the civil case is still pending in the courts.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. 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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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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