CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Former lecturer sentenced for terrorist threat against SUU and Cedar City

Nov 17, 2023, 12:22 PM | Updated: Dec 5, 2023, 3:46 pm

students walk on SOUTHERN UTAH UNIVERSITY, SUU, campus...

Southern Utah University campus on April 7, 2021 in Cedar City, Utah. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

CEDAR CITY, Utah — A former lecturer who threatened faculty and staff at Southern Utah University and officials with Cedar City last year was sentenced Friday.

Steven Baggs was a lecturer in the art department at SUU who pleaded guilty to terrorism threats last month.

Terrorist threat against SUU students

Towards the end of 2022, he threatened a Rambo-style attack on both SUU and Cedar City. He told SUU’s HR department at one point that he had two magazines, a gun and could kill 30 students.

Prosecutors said there were 28 police reports filed against Baggs for the emails and phone calls he made threatening former and current associates, a police officer, city officials and their families over several months towards the end of last year.

During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, prosecutor David Hill said the threats Baggs made were unlike anything he’d seen as an attorney.

“Reading through these messages, including to people that he purported to love, it at times left me sick to my stomach… It’s one thing to threaten someone but this level of detail, combined with the accompanying sexual derangement, it’s just plain terrifying,” said prosecutor David Hill.

A major impact

Prosecutors said they knew of 25 people impacted by the threats and that didn’t include their family or SUU students. He said some SUU staff even quit and moved over Bagg’s behavior.

Today at his sentencing Baggs said the threats he sent were just words.

“I never would have acted out on anything,” Baggs said. “I was just in like, this dark place.”

Judge Matthew Bell said concern for the safety of the community warranted a prison sentence.

“You made those threats but no concern about the very injustice you were working upon so many people,” Judge Bell said. “They’re not just words.”

Bell sentenced Baggs to serve the maximum term of incarceration consecutively at the Utah State Prison.

“The only thing that the court can do for them [the victims] now is to incapacitate you to give them some peace of mind. If prison frightens you, it pales in comparison to the terror that your threats caused so many people,” he said.

The Board of Pardons will ultimately decide Baggs’ release date.

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Former lecturer sentenced for terrorist threat against SUU and Cedar City