East Millcreek man arrested after 4 1/2-hour standoff; 40 homes evacuated
EAST MILLCREEK — A 4 1/2-hour standoff with a man whom police called "mentally unstable" and who they feared may have planted explosive devices in his neighbors' yards ended without incident Sunday night.
By 9 p.m. all residents had been cleared to return to their homes, according to Unified Police.
An armored police vehicle drove right to the front door of David Baker's house, 3830 S. Del Mar, according to witnesses, apparently prompting Baker to run out the back door where he was taken into custody by waiting SWAT team members.
Baker — who called himself a reverend, told neighbors he was running for president and said God was commanding people to vote for him — yelled nonsensical statements at officers during the tense standoff. He was eventually arrested wearing an orange sequined dress.
Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said he was very pleased that the potentially volatile situation had a peaceful ending.
As many as 40 homes were evacuated near 3100 East and 3900 South in the East Millcreek/Mt. Olympus area — all houses within 100 yards of Baker's home — after officers said they watched Baker walk around with a shotgun and place what appeared to be gas canisters or propane tanks in yards.
Two devices were found before the standoff ended about 6:30 p.m., but they were not explosives. Winder described the devices as an "alarm clock with tape on them." Investigators were not allowing residents back into their homes, however, until all the yards — as well as Baker's house — were cleared of possible explosives.
Unified police detective Levi Hughes confirmed that police had been monitoring Baker for several months. Neighbors say the man has shown increasingly bizarre behavior in recent months, including making threats against police and posting unusual videos on YouTube.
"A lot of them have been centered around what he felt has been harassment from the police. Apparently he knows the police because he refers to them by name," said neighbor Patrick Brain.
Neighbors say some of the videos show Baker with firearms and demonstrate his ability to make bombs.
Baker has an extensive online presence, including a personal website with links to multiple Facebook profiles, blogs, Twitter and other sites. His YouTube channel features 170 videos dating back two years, starting with home movies of his family and pets and devolving into 30-minute long tirades with references to drugs, firearms, altercations with neighbors and relatives, and his hopes of stirring up a federal investigation into his past.
In one of the most recent videos, posted to Vimeo one week prior to Sunday’s standoff, Baker describes methods of booby-trapping a yard in the name of security. On his website and a few profiles, Baker refers to himself as the “Demon Angel of Honesty” and says he is communicating with God.
One of the YouTube videos is titled, "Everyone should own a gun, by the Reverend David Charles Baker." The video was posted in January just after the shooting death of Ogden police officer Jared Francom. In the video, Baker says, "I believe everyone should know one and how to shoot it," and talks about how he would make that a law if he was elected president.
In a description of the video, he also wrote: "In the Ogden case, under President Baker it would not have happened that way because growing weed will be legal so the extra police taken off that folly will be available to surveil the house until the suspect's whereabouts is known before knocking and as backup any time a home is searched, especially when a former member of the US Armed Forces needs his home searched for legitimate reasons."
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