Editor’s Note: If you or a loved one is experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, you can confidentially seek assistance via the Military/Veterans Crisis Line by calling 988 and dialing 1, via text at 838255 or chat at http://VeteransCrisisLine.net. You don’t need to be a VA beneficiary to use the service.
A member of the Utah Army National Guard was shot and killed during a police standoff on Nov. 20, according to local authorities.
Staff Sgt. Alma Worthington, a combat medic assigned to the state’s 115th Maintenance Company, called 911 that afternoon to tell Herriman, Utah authorities that he was suicidal, according to a media release. The 14-year veteran deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 with the state’s Apache helicopter battalion, his obituary said.
Local police said officers and fellow members of his unit tried to “provide him with resources and options,” but Worthington started shooting at neighbors’ homes and the law enforcement that had surrounded his home. That triggered an evacuation led by a local SWAT team while Worthington continued shooting.
The shooting led authorities to activate the local emergency alert system and order a shelter-in-place while the evacuation occurred, according to the release. During the hours-long standoff, Worthington was reportedly unmoved by police negotiators and used his rifle to fire “rapid volleys” at the armored vehicles that SWAT units used to evacuate his neighbors.
One of the local SWAT teams killed Worthington after he stepped out of the home’s back door toward police while firing his rifle.
Herriman police claimed Worthington, “was adamant throughout our encounter with him that this was the outcome he had decided upon” and that they were unable to de-escalate the situation.
“We have and will continue to make every effort to avoid armed confrontation with suicidal subjects and provide them resources and options for a path forward,” the department’s statement said. “But we cannot allow that person to place the lives of other citizens in danger through their actions.”
In the obituary, Worthington’s family expressed their thanks for the Guard colleagues “and others who attempted to redirect Alma last Sunday night. We hope that despite our tragic loss a greater emphasis can be made to support those who struggle with mental health.”
Utah Guard spokesman Maj. Chris Kroeber told Army Times in an email statement, “Our service members and their families are important to us, [and] we are working with the surviving family to make sure they are supported in this most challenging time.”
Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.