Police found no bombs at the home of an East Millcreek man who had set up a network of wires and fake explosives in his yard before engaging officers in an armed standoff Sunday.
David Charles Baker, 47, was arrested about 6:30 p.m. after SWAT officers used a tactical vehicle to break through the front door of Baker's home near 3100 East and Del Mar Drive, said Unified Police Detective Levi Hughes. Baker, whom police described as mentally unstable and trained in explosives, fled out the back door and was immediately captured by officers.
Neighbors had reported Baker's erratic behavior to police several times in the past few months, Hughes said. Investigators learned that Baker had experience with incendiary devices and found a series of agitated video rants and blog posts on the Internet, Hughes said, but they do not know what exactly set off the chain of events leading to Sunday's confrontation.
Hughes said the incident appeared to start about 2:30 p.m. Sunday when Baker showed up at a friend's home near 3700 E. Thousand Oaks and got into a face-to-face confrontation with the friend and made some sort of "demands." He then left a package in the driveway and informed his friend that its contents could cause his home to catch fire.
When patrol officers drove to Baker's home to speak with him about the incident, they found Baker wielding a shotgun and walking amid the trip wires as he placed several propane and gas tanks around his property, Hughes said. The officers kept a safe distance, said Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder.
"This gentleman had in place items that were of such significant concern that to just rush up would have been an act of foolishness," Winder said. About 40 homes in the neighborhood were evacuated as Baker went into his home and refused to come out.
Baker shouted "nonsensical" things to officers that gathered around his home, Winder said. Neighbor Natalie Harvey said she heard him yelling, "Get out of my flowers!" Another neighbor, Haley Fife, said Baker shouted to police that he would only come out if they blew up his house.
She said he had apparently written all over his car, but she could not make out the words. Minutes before SWAT officers raided the house, Fife saw Baker display a headless mannequin in one of his windows and put a hat on its neck. He also placed bottles on the window sills and took photographs of those bottles, Fife said.
After Baker was arrested and cuffed, he could be seen hopping and dancing in place in a black sequin mini-dress with orange and pink fur trim and a cowl neck.
Bomb squads examined suspicious items Baker reported left at neighbors houses, including an alarm clock with tape on it, Winder said. Crews deemed those items safe and found the set-up of wires and tanks in Baker's yard also were not dangerous, Hughes said. Neighbors were allowed to return to their homes about 8:30 p.m.
At the home on Thousand Oaks, bomb squads found the military-style "pelican box," which Baker allegedly said contained a device to burn his friend's house. Instead, the box was filled with what Hughes described as "adult material."
Winder said Baker could potentially face a number of felony charges in connection with the incident.
Hughes said Baker's wife, who is out of the country, has told police he's not a threat. Baker has no known military history.
However, Hughes said authorities learned Baker was armed and had a type of shotgun shell called "dragon's breath," which shoots flames about 30 or 40 feet.
Baker has recently left long, rambling rants on YouTube where he said God was speaking to him and makes mention on Twitter and other websites referencing "the boom."
He also references buying and selling firearms and has posted photos of them.
Baker became steadily more aggressive with each police interaction, to the point that police flagged him and wouldn't allow officers to respond to his house alone, Hughes said. Their last contact with Baker was about two weeks ago, Hughes said.