Inmate makes bomb threat in escape attempt

Inmate makes bomb threat in escape attempt

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CEDAR CITY -- It was a frightening situation at the Iron County Jail when an inmate made a bomb threat, held a corrections officer hostage and tried to make an escape.

Iron County Sheriff's deputies said it happened Monday night when inmate Steven Crutcher, 28, was in the visiting area of the jail. He pulled something out of his shirt and grabbed an Iron County sheriff's deputy, holding what appeared to be a pipe bomb to her.

"He said he had a bomb and if he didn't get to the outside he was going to blow himself and the corrections deputy up," Iron County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Pallesen told KSL NewsRadio.

The deputy was able to radio for help. As Crutcher was trying to pull the corrections deputy through a series of push doors toward the exit, other deputies tackled him. The deputy was rescued, and Crutcher was pushed back into the booking area of the jail, Pallesen said.

For the next couple of hours, Crutcher held the device to himself.

"He had his thumb on a red switch, which he claimed was a pressure switch," Pallesen said. "There was a good two hours where it was real tense situation, whether that was a real bomb or whether that was hoax."

A special squad of deputies trained to handle dangerous situations responded and used a beanbag gun to make him drop the device. The St. George Police Department's bomb squad took the device and detonated it with a water cannon.

Pallesen said the device was really a toilet paper roll that had been colored gray. It had wires from an AM/FM radio inmates can purchase in the commissary attached to it, and the red detonation button was the eraser from a pencil.

Crutcher is now being housed in isolation where he is watched 24 hours a day. Pallesen said the inmate has been in the Iron County Jail since May for possessing a stolen vehicle, a weapons violation and a parole violation warrant from Wisconsin.

"The investigating deputy has referred everything to the county attorney for charges," Pallesen said.

A review is also expected to determine how Crutcher was able to make the device and whether any changes are necessary at the jail. The deputy who was held hostage was uninjured, Pallesen said.

"She's doing very well. She handled herself very well," he said.

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