PLEASANT GROVE — A Pleasant Grove man with a history of mental illness who police say shot at his neighbors and at police officers was arrested Tuesday following a tense six-hour standoff that ended with an armored vehicle breaching his house.
Robert Sterling Clark, 37, was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of four counts of attempted aggravated murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, and illegal discharge of a firearm.
The dangerous series of events began about 2:40 p.m. when a neighbor called 911 to report that Clark — wearing brown pants, a camouflage jacket and a black hat — had fired a gun into the air outside his house near 550 East and 500 North, according to a police affidavit. The neighbor’s brother had confronted Clark and told him to stop, prompting Clark to point the gun at the brother, then continue shooting into the air, according to police.
After he was arrested, Clark said he pointed a gun at his neighbor “because he was a fake Marine and would not stand down,” the affidavit states.
Another neighbor reported that Clark shot at her car as she drove by, police said.
“Witnesses stated Mr. Clark was heard yelling and shooting multiple times. When officers arrived at the address, they observed Mr. Clark was on a second-floor balcony of the residence shooting a rifle several more times,” according to the affidavit.
An estimated eight shots were fired into the air with a rifle before police arrived. When police arrived and surrounded the residence, they said additional shots were fired at four officers.
Police had been called multiple times to deal with Clark, who has “a history of mental illness, domestic violence and drug use,” the affidavit states. “Family members have reported in the past that Mr. Clark suffers from schizophrenia and could possibly be autistic. ... Family members of Mr. Clark have called in to report they have knowledge of Mr. Clark not taking his medication for his mental illness for the past several months.”
Neighboring homes were evacuated as more officers and the Utah County Joint SWAT team responded.
About 4:10 p.m. more shots were fired “from inside the residence exiting through the back door,” according to the affidavit. Ten minutes later, another round was fired at police and an officer “reported hearing the bullet as it traveled past them.”
“One officer returned fire with a single shot toward Mr. Clark. Clark told investigators that the shot hit the wood on the deck and hit Clark in the lower right leg with wood splinters from the deck. Clark stated he saw these officers as a threat,” police wrote in the affidavit.
The SWAT team attempted for several hours to talk to Clark to get him to surrender, “but Mr. Clark refused. Clark told Utah County SWAT members that he was prepared with a lot of ammo and if they were going to come inside he was going kill them all,” the affidavit says.
SWAT members eventually threw tear gas into the home to try and get Clark to exit. When that didn’t work, they used an armored vehicle to break through the front door and window. The SWAT team reported finding Clark inside the front room with a shotgun, a large knife strapped to his leg, and shotgun shells in his vest pocket.
At that point, he surrendered without further incident.
Police have requested that Clark be held without bail, saying he is a “danger to himself and everyone around him.”
“Clark has failed to take medication for paranoid schizophrenia for several months. Clark has alienated himself from all his family and has stated that he hasn’t left his residence since September of 2020. Clark stated he doesn’t trust the local police because they eat zombie flesh and stated his neighbor is making zombie meat in his backyard in a zombie pond,” according to the affidavit.