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CEDAR CITY — Law enforcement in southern Utah have arrested a man they believe was connected to a series of threats that led to the closure of a Veterans Affairs clinic in St. George on Tuesday.
Aaron David Kirschner, 48, of Cedar City, was arrested on federal warrants around 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, according to Iron County Sheriff Ken Carpenter. The sheriff said that Kirschner voluntarily surrendered to sheriff's deputies and was taken into custody without incident.
Carpenter told KSL.com that investigators believe Kirschner is the suspect behind the threats reported to the Veterans Affairs clinic in St. George, 230 N. 1680 East. Jill Atwood, director of communications for the Salt Lake Veterans Affairs system, told KSL.com that threats made over the phone prompted the clinic's closure on Tuesday. In a Facebook post, the VA indicated the threats were directed toward both employees and veterans.
Atwood said Wednesday that the St. George clinic is set to reopen this week, and she thanked local law enforcement for their work.
"We are pleased to inform our veterans and the public that the VA clinic in St. George will reopen first thing Thursday morning," Atwood said in an email Wednesday. "The situation has been resolved peacefully."
On Monday, Kirschner was charged in Utah's federal court in connection with previous threats made against the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Federal court records indicate Kirschner was charged via complaint with two counts of making interstate threats and one count of cyberstalking.
Charging documents allege that between March 24 and 27, Kirschner made 609 calls to the hospital, which is a part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Salt Lake City Health Care System. The system includes the clinic in St. George.
Kirschner allegedly tried to intimidate or harass five employees via phone calls and emails, charging documents say. The employees identified Kirschner by his voice, from previous interactions, and witnesses suffered "substantial emotional distress" due to the calls, according to charging documents. The court filings state that Kirschner made "threats, insults and repeated calls, and caused one witness to be in fear of her life."
In one phone call, Kirschner said, "Tell (a staff member identified by name) she is a dead woman," charging documents state.
In another call, Kirschner allegedly said, "I am in the lobby of the main building; I'm looking at the Utah campus; I am not going home; nobody is going home." The hospital is located south of Foothill Drive in Salt Lake City, across from the University of Utah campus.
Charging documents state that Kirschner said in another call, "You are not to hang up again, because if you do, I will put you to the ground and you will not get to see your family again."
Kirschner is also accused of using his computer with virtual phone numbers to occupy multiple hospital phone lines, according to three witnesses not named in charging documents.
Carpenter told KSL.com that Kirschner was taken to a hospital after he allegedly told police he overdosed on medications in an attempt to take his own life. As of Wednesday afternoon, he was still in the care of the Cedar City Hospital.
An initial appearance date in federal court has not been set.