Police shoot Cedar City man wearing body armor in standoff


ST. GEORGE — A 38-year-old Cedar City man was shot in the chest by police early Christmas morning after wielding an ax and threatening to detonate explosives in a home, authorities reported.

Benjamin Dee Wilcken was not seriously injured because he was wearing body armor, Cedar City police said in a prepared statement.

A critical-incident task force was set to investigate.

Two officers first used stun guns, but they appeared to have no effect, according to Cedar City police. An officer shot Wilcken once and no other rounds were fired.

Wilcken retreated to the garage, where he wielded a medieval-style battle ax and negotiated with police for several hours before he surrendered about 3 a.m.

The standoff began about 11 p.m. Sunday, after someone called to report that Wilcken was suicidal, may have harmed himself and that there were family members, including children, at the home. Wilcken threatened neighbors and police, saying he would detonate explosives, according to Cedar City police.

An Iron County SWAT team also was called to help.

Wilcken was taken to Cedar City Hospital for injuries that police said were self-inflicted and not life-threatening.

Officers ordered evacuations of neighboring houses because of the threat of explosives, but police said no devices turned up in their search of the home.

Upon his release from the hospital, Wilcken was jailed for investigation of multiple crimes: assault against a police officer, making terroristic threats, disorderly conduct and intoxication.

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He has not yet been charged with a crime related to the standoff.

In 2013, Wilcken pleaded guilty to assaulting an officer and trying to drive under the influence, court records show.

He was known to Cedar City officers prior to Sunday night, said Cedar City Police Sgt. Jerry Womack, but for minor offenses.

The names of the officers involved in the shooting have not been released. No timeline was given on the probe led by a task force that investigates police shootings in Iron, Beaver and Garfield counties.

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