Stabbing at the Federal Courthouse

Stabbing at the Federal Courthouse

Save Story

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A white supremacist allegedly smuggled a homemade shank into the federal courthouse Tuesday, using the 3-inch sharpened metal object to stab another inmate in a holding cell.

The victim, a Hispanic male, suffered three puncture wounds and several cuts, but was not seriously injured, said Jim Thompson, chief deputy for the U.S. Marshal's Service, which provides security at the building.

The victim, whose name was not released, was transported to a local hospital.

The alleged assailant, Lance Vanderstappen, 25, is a well-known white supremacist whose membership in the Soldiers of Aryan Culture had landed him prison, officials said.

Tuesday's attacked happened shortly after Vanderstappen was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison for the 2001 stabbing -- also with a crudely hewn shank -- of another man inside the Utah State Prison.

In pleading guilty to that offense, Vanderstappen said he had attacked the man to advance his position within the Soldiers, said Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney in Utah.

After his sentencing, Vanderstappen and the alleged victim were in the holding cell with other prisoners either awaiting court appearances or transfers to prison when the alleged attack happened.

Thompson said Vanderstappen smuggled the shank out of the state prison in Draper and into the federal courthouse inside a body cavity.

Prisoners, and Vanderstappen in particular, are monitored carefully by video cameras and marshals, but the shank would only have been found had Vanderstappen passed through an X-ray machine or through a body cavity search, but neither step was taken.

"We know he has violent potential, so we take the necessary precaution, but this weapon was so well concealed that it was not found," Thompson said.

It remained unclear Tuesday what precipitated the altercation between the two men, although the victim's race alone could have been a motivating factor, Thompson said.

Investigators were reviewing videotapes and talking with other prisoners held in the same cell to try to determine what happened, he said.

Federal prosecutors anticipate filing new charges against Vanderstappen following the investigation, Rydalch said.

It is the first time a stabbing has occurred inside the downtown Salt Lake City federal courthouse, Thompson said.

"It's just another issue as far as courtroom safety," he said. "We are constantly having to deal with people who are motivated to either escape or hurt other people."

In Salt Lake City's state court 20 years ago, Ronnie Lee Garnder shot and killed attorney Michael Burdell during a botched escape attempt. Garnder was convicted of a capital crime is now on Utah's death row.

Vanderstappen also was one of 12 members of the supremacist group involved in a courtroom brawl in December.

All 12 had been charged by federal prosecutors under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO Act. The men were accused of various crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, extortion and conspiracy to distribute narcotics to further the power of the organization.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast