Parowan man who built bunkers fearing ‘end times’ is charged with felony

Area where firefighters discovered ammunition and explosives while battling Brian Head Fire in June, date and location of photo not specified | File photo courtesy Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — An 82-year-old doomsday-fearing man who stockpiled guns, grenades and food in scattered bunkers and cabins he illegally built in the southern Utah wilderness has been charged with recklessness with an incendiary device.

Richard Batt was charged with the felony on Wednesday, the Deseret News reported Friday.

Bunker where firefighters discovered explosives while battling Brian Head Fire in June, date and location of photo not specified | File photo courtesy Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

No attorney was listed for Batt in online court records. No listed phone numbers could be found.

The Iron County Sheriff’s Office released a statement Nov. 30 saying that its investigation found the man had built four cabins and bunkers over 30 years fearing “end times.” Authorities did not identify him at the time due to the ongoing investigation, but said he had been cooperative.

The stockpiled explosives were first discovered by wildland firefighters battling the Brian Head Fire more than a week after the massive wildfire started June 17.

“During firefighting efforts on June 27, 2017, firefighters working in the vicinity of Henderson Hill heard ‘popping’ sounds,” according to the statement. “The firefighters first thought the ‘popping’ sounds were rocks exploding due to heat, but as the sound continued for approximately five minutes, firefighters realized the ‘popping’ sound was actually ammunition exploding in the fire.”

Area where firefighters discovered ammunition and explosives while battling Brian Head Fire in June, date and location of photo not specified | File photo courtesy Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

Firefighters hiked into the area and found a cabin structure that had burned to the ground, along with a nearby underground bunker containing ammunition, inert grenades, fuses and explosive powder, in addition to a large number of storage containers filled with food.

After taking photographs at the site, firefighters left the area and notified law enforcement.

“Due to the presence of potentially dangerous items, and for the safety of firefighting personnel, firefighting action in the immediate area of the burned cabin was changed to aerial suppression only,” according to the statement.

On June 30, bomb squad technicians and other law enforcement personnel were flown to the bunker site by helicopter, while other officers were dispatched to the Parowan home of the man they believed was responsible.

“During the interview, the person was cooperative and eventually admitted to officers the bunker and burned-down cabin were his; and he had indeed purchased, drilled-out, and threaded the novelty hand-grenades,” the statement read. “The person also told officers the hand grenades were not an explosive hazard to firefighters or officers responding to the location.”

The man reportedly also told authorities that he had seven or eight additional cabin structures or bunkers hidden throughout the area, with most of them also being supplied with food storage, firearms and ammunition. He told investigators he had been building the shelters and stockpiling supplies for several years.

St. George News reporter Jeff Richards and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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5 Comments

  • Carpe Diem August 10, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Pretty crazy deal. Who is his prophet?

    • Mike P August 11, 2018 at 9:58 am

      Maybe HE’S the Prophet

      • Chris August 11, 2018 at 10:47 am

        I believe this guy is the “prophet of Parowan” who used to submit wacko conspiracy theory themed letters to local newspapers many years ago. Didn’t know he was still alive.

        • Chris August 11, 2018 at 10:55 am

          Turns out, I was wrong. The Prophet of Parowan is/was Leland Freeborn.

  • Rob83 August 11, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    Glad no body was hurt by the ammo. I don’t blame him for doing what he did and he did tell about the other spots when he realized it could hurt other people. Does everybody know what a EMP attack could do to this country though? I like to be informed and it’s not completely impossible, so having a “safe spot” for a hide out that is stocked is not a crazy idea, unless you won’t mind fighting people off your property and are able to defend yourself and family from desperate people, it could be pretty scary and it really could happen, that’s why we keep hearing to stock up the food and water and what not..

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