Threats against employees prompt Utah VA clinic closure

St. George (Utah) Clinic will reopen March 31 after it was closed because of threats made against veterans and staff at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City, a VA Salt Lake City Health Care System spokesperson told Becker's

Aaron David Kirschner, 48, faces two charges of interstate threats and one count of cyberstalking for allegedly threatening employees at the hospital earlier in March, according to Fox affiliate KSTU

Jill Atwood, VA spokesperson, said the incident began late the week of March 21 and escalated to St. George.

Mr. Kirschner is accused of calling the medical center at least 600 times and threatening to kill or injure staff, CBS affiliate KUTV reported, citing a complaint filed in federal court. 

Police said Mr. Kirschner told witnesses "he had been using his computer to call with virtual phone numbers to occupy as many VA medical center phone lines as he could, occupying as many as five phone lines with the intent to annoy and harass until his demands were met."

On March 29, the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System announced the closure of St. George on its website. 

"Due to unforeseen safety concerns, our St. George Clinic is closed until further notice. Patients are being contacted and rescheduled during this time. Veterans, please do not come to the clinic. We will be in contact when the clinic is back open and operating," the announcement said. 

In a separate statement shared with Becker's on March 30, the health system said, "Out of an abundance of caution, VA Salt Lake City Health Care System was forced to close the St. George Clinic due to threats made against Veterans and our staff. All impacted veterans will be rescheduled and or, when appropriate, offered virtual appointments. In the meantime, VA police are working closely with local authorities to mitigate the situation. We look forward to a peaceful resolution and the reopening of the clinic as soon as possible."

Ms. Atwood said the situation has been resolved and St. George will reopen March 31.   

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