Man arrested after Pleasant Grove SWAT standoff has history of mental illness, police say

Man arrested after Pleasant Grove SWAT standoff has history of mental illness, police say

(Paul Nelson, KSL)

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PLEASANT GROVE — Police arrested a man who they say has a documented history of mental illness after he allegedly exchanged gunfire with officers and barricaded himself in his Pleasant Grove home on Tuesday evening.

Robert Sterling Clark, 37, was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of attempted aggravated murder, assault and discharging a firearm, according to a jail report.

Pleasant Grove City officials later reported that everyone involved in the incident was safe.

The situation started about 2:40 p.m. Tuesday when police responded to calls reporting a man, later identified as Clark, was firing a gun into the air near 550 E. 500 North, according to the report.

A man reported he confronted Clark, who pointed the gun at him and then continued firing into the air, the report says. A woman who was driving past also reported seeing Clark shoot at her vehicle in the area.

Officers responded to the area where they saw Clark standing on a second-floor balcony and shooting a rifle into the air. Witnesses told police he was yelling and shooting the gun, according to the jail report. Police determined he had shot the gun into the air about eight times before they arrived.

Police set up a perimeter in the area, but Clark shot several times at four of the officers. Police began evacuating neighbors from the area and then attempted to contact Clark, but he went back into his house, the report says.

A short time later, Clark appeared at a back door of the house and seemed to be yelling at officers, who could not understand him because he was yelling behind a closed door, the report says.

About 4:11 p.m., police saw several gunshots coming from the house and going through the back door. Several minutes later, police saw Clark shoot at them again before he went back into the house.

An officer then shot back towards Clark, who later told investigators the shot hit some wood on the deck, and splinters from the wood went into his lower leg, according to the jail report.

A SWAT team then arrived at the house and negotiators tried to convince Clark to come out, the report states.

"Clark told Utah County SWAT members that he was prepared with a lot of ammo and if they were going to come inside he was going kill them all," the jail report says.

SWAT officers tried to get Clark to leave the house by introducing gas, but he stayed inside. They then used an armored SWAT vehicle to get through the front door and window of the house.

Once inside, SWAT team members saw Clark in the front room of the house holding a shotgun. They ordered him to put the gun down and come out of the house, and he complied, according to the jail report.

Clark was then taken into custody. Police found a knife strapped to his leg and shotgun shells in his pockets, according to the report.

Clark's family members have told police that he has schizophrenia and may also have autism, according to the report. They also told police he has not been taking his medication for his mental illness for several months.

Family members told police they have also been in contact with the owner of the home where Clark lives, and he is going to be evicted within the next several weeks. Clark is estranged from all of his family members and has no place to go, so being evicted would force him into homelessness, the jail report says.

Clark later told investigators that he does not trust the local police, and he had not left his home since September 2020.

Pleasant Grove, Lone Peak, American Fork and Lehi police responded to the house during the incident. Residents in several blocks surrounding the area were ordered to shelter in place, and that order was lifted shortly after 8:40 p.m. Tuesday, according to Pleasant Grove city officials.

No further details about the situation were available Wednesday. Clark hasn't yet been criminally charged in court and is currently being held without bail in the Utah County Jail.

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