The only thing that I'm surprised about is there aren't a bunch of people dead — including Baker. He wanted to die by police (shootout). —Kristen Ulmer, neighbor
EAST MILLCREEK — For a year, Kristen Ulmer knew it wasn't a matter of "if" David Charles Baker was going to have a showdown with police, it was only a matter of when.
"The only thing that I'm surprised about is there aren't a bunch of people dead — including Baker. He wanted to die by police (shootout)," she said. "I knew something was going to happen and I knew it was going to be a big deal."
Ulmer has known Baker for 20 years, calling him one of her best friends for much of that time. She said she probably knows Baker as well as anybody.
"He was an absolute pleasure for 19 of the 20 years," she said Monday from her home in Mt. Olympus. But now, she hopes her former friend is charged, convicted and sentenced to prison.
"Because the second he gets out, I'm sure he's going to come after me, and that scares me. He's very manipulative. He'll do everything that they tell him to do and have them convinced that he's fine," she said. "He is a lifelong danger and I hope he never gets out."
Sunday, Baker was arrested following a 4 ½ hour standoff with a SWAT team at his house, 3128 E. Del Mar Drive (3828 South). About 40 neighborhood homes were evacuated as police and fire crews investigated items Baker allegedly placed in other yards that were thought to be explosive devices.
Monday, new details emerged about Baker's arrest as well as his deteriorated relationships with some friends and family members. One relative in Vermont has an active restraining order against him, and former close friends such as Ulmer say they have been in fear of their lives for the past year.
Police said they had been monitoring the "mentally unstable" man for several months. He had shown increasingly bizarre behavior, neighbors said, had made threats against police, posted many unusual videos and blogs on the Internet and claimed to be speaking with God.
Baker, 47, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of being a restricted person in possession of weapons, fleeing while causing property damage in the process, interfering with an arrest, threats against life, 911 abuse and mail theft.
Investigators finished going through Baker's house early Monday. They recovered a rifle, a handgun, ammunition, cocaine and marijuana and also found trip wires in his backyard, said Unified police detective Levi Hughes.
Several neighbors Sunday described Baker as odd and eccentric, but before Sunday didn't consider him a person who posed a threat to others.
Ulmer spoke out Monday because she said she wanted others to know her former friend was more than just a man with bizarre habits.
"Absolutely, he is an extreme danger to this community, to his friends, to himself," she said. "I feel nervous even talking about him, because I've been tiptoeing through my life just not wanting to trigger him because I knew something bad was going to happen. I didn't know when and I didn't know what, but I didn't want to be involved personally. So even mentioning his name is making me nervous. He's a very dangerous person."
It was at Ulmer's home where Sunday's unusual activities began.
For a year, Ulmer said she was afraid to answer her front door for fear it would be Baker. On Sunday, she and her husband heard a loud noise coming from outside their home. They opened the door to find Baker throwing a briefcase onto their patio, placing a poster on their porch, a bottle of alcohol in their driveway, a bow around their mailbox and a letter addressed to Ulmer in the mailbox — a letter she did not read.
He then demanded that Ulmer provide him with a private plane by midnight so he could take his sick dog to Canada where his wife was attending a sewing conference, according to Ulmer and jail records. If she didn't do it, Baker allegedly threatened to burn her house down.
"He said over and over again, 'Do you believe me? Do you believe me that I'll burn your house down?' He said this three times," she said.
Ulmer believes Baker wasn't expecting her to be home, and it prematurely triggered the string of events that played out Sunday.
"I think he was planning on this happening at some point, but I don't think he was planning on this happening today," she said.
A bomb squad and hazardous materials crews responded to Ulmer's house on Thousand Oaks Drive. They found a briefcase wrapped with zip ties and wires. They blew up the briefcase in her driveway to discover that it was filled with pornography and Bibles.
While that was happening, Baker returned to his house and was seen putting a box near the neighbor's garbage can while carrying a shotgun, according to a jail report. When police arrived, he placed "mock explosive devices on the front lawn and trees surrounding his residence," the report states. Investigators were eventually able to determine that none of the boxes or devices were actual explosives.
When the SWAT team finally coaxed Baker out of his house and arrested him, he was wearing an orange dress.
Ulmer and Baker met 20 years ago at Snowbird. He was from Vermont. On his Facebook page, Baker said he graduated from the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College.
Ulmer said she was the person who performed the marriage for Baker and his current wife, Kelli, at the Burning Man festival in Nevada in 2008. It was Baker's second marriage.
"He was definitely one of the more interesting people I've ever met. He was really funny, and totally fun. He would just get on these rants and talk about this and that, and I could sit there for five hours and not say a word and leave completely entertained by the guy," she said. "From what I can tell, he's just always been just a crazy, eccentric, at first self-absorbed and later narcissistic man — and very highly intelligent. Fun, funny, and all that. And then suddenly there was just a tipping point.
"He went from being kind of a charismatic, narcissistic, fun, crazy, funny guy to being what we all consider a sociopath," she said.
Other former friends, who wished to remain anonymous, similarly described Baker as a man who was fun to be around, until things changed. That tipping point came about a year ago, Ulmer said. She attributes it to several factors.
Several friends have said that Baker will inherit a large amount of money when his mother dies. Ulmer said at one time Baker's mother was sending him about $14,000 per month.
Baker hasn't really had, or needed, a job for awhile, she said. He ran his own computer support business out of his house, called Baker Digital Corp. But Ulmer said he only did it half-heartedly, even using the slogans, "I cost less because I know less" and "Committed to almost meeting your expectations."
His behavior was always a little different, she said. She noted the time he would weed his lawn using a flame thrower or a recent incident in which he was stung by a wasp and reacted by burning the entire bush where the wasp had landed.
About a year ago he made comments to friends that led them to believe he was growing impatient waiting for his fortune. He began making comments against family members in Vermont, including his mother, Ulmer said, and his monthly allowance was subsequently cut off. According to a police report, Baker currently has a "stalking injunction" against him by someone in Vermont.
Other traumatic events in Baker's life included the deaths from old age of five of his six dogs in the past year. Friends say Baker was an active volunteer at local pet adoptions and was particularly fond of saving black Labradors, of which he had many of his own. The deaths of his dogs was a traumatic experience for him, Ulmer said.
She also said several people who he thought were his close friends had recently told Baker they really didn't like him.
That, combined with suspected drug use, caused Baker to change, she said. Baker talked about smoking marijuana in many of the YouTube videos he apparently posted. Detectives said both marijuana and cocaine were found in Baker's house Sunday.
While these events were happening, Ulmer said Baker told his family and closest friends that he was dedicating the rest of his life to ruining theirs. Ulmer said she called Baker to try and find out what was prompting such a dramatic change. She asked him if it was drugs, which she said angered him.
"Then he said, 'You're dead to me' and he hung up the phone," she said.
Police have been monitoring Baker for several months. He 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, and includes 30-minute 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, he describes methods of booby-trapping a yard and on another website refers to himself as the “Demon Angel of Honesty” and says he is communicating with God. Baker also says on several of his social media pages that he is running for president of the United States and that God has commanded people to vote for him.
But Ulmer said the dress and other odd behavior is just an act.
"This whole God rampage thing, I mean, he is a devout atheist. I think he's making a mockery of religious folks. I know that he sees himself as god," she said. "He sees himself as smarter than everybody else and he's very manipulative. I think that the only reason this didn't explode is because of his fear of spending a lot of time in prison.
"Absolutely he knew what he was doing, but he has this god complex that he thinks he's just so much smarter than everyone else, that he can outsmart everybody and do what he wants and get away with it," she said.
Now that Baker is in custody, Ulmer said she feels relief — but also sadness.
"It just breaks my heart to see a friend lose it like that," she said.