Former SUU Pride Club leader and founder kills self during standoff

Cedar City police say a recent breakup led former Southern Utah University Pride Club leader and founding member Evan Wilcock to end his life after a three-hour standoff with law enforcement negotiators.

Wilcock’s father called police at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday. He said Evan drove to a “secret camp spot” in Right Hand Canyon. The spot was a special place Evan once shared with a “significant other,” according to Cedar City Police Dept. Information Officer Lt. Keith Millett.

Police responded and spiked Wilcock’s car as he was coming down the canyon. His car crashed into an Iron County Sheriff’s vehicle and police negotiators surrounded Wilcock’s car. Police also barricaded three city blocks near the incident.

Wilcock’s rifle went off around 10 p.m., striking him near the side of his stomach. He was taken to Valley View Medical Center where he died of his wounds.

Wilcock was a former radio host on SUU’s Power 91 radio station, a “quirky waiter” and a manager at the Convergys call center in Cedar City.

Last October, Iron County Today wrote a story on  the suicides of six teenage boys tormented by their peers for their homosexuality. Wilcock was quoted as saying he “honestly and truly thought he was the only gay man on the planet” as he grew up in Cedar City.

“In Southern Utah there wasn’t a lot of talking about it back then … you didn’t ‘come out’ out of fear,” Wilcock told the paper. “There were no ‘out’ role models in the 80s, that I had heard of, no celebrities, or anything that I had heard of living here in Cedar City, and I really thought that I was the only one in the world, and I was terrified.”

Wilcock told those struggling in high school that life doesn’t begin until after high school.

“Just hang in,” Wilcock said. “It does get better,” Wilcock was quoted as saying.

“Sure wish he had taken his own advice,” Carin Batcho-Miller wrote on the wall of a Facebook memorial page’s (http://on.fb.me/fsMv6c) set up for friends and family to share stories and their grief of his passing.

“You are loved by so many. From our days at North Elementary, ” wrote Mindy Benson, “to college days where you taught us all to be more accepting, campaigned for student rights, started the gender blender, which you so brilliantly performed at, wore your tiara in the parade, and basically ruled student life at college! You walked away with a T-bird Award to prove it. You were a favorite of everybody and loved by so many.”

Wilcock was 40 years old at the time of his death.

Benjamin King Smith, president of the SUU Queer-Straight Alliance — the new name for the SUU Pride Club, said the group had counselors from the school’s Counseling and Psychological Services available at their meeting Wednesday night after members heard of the incident.

A donation account in the name of “Evan Wilcock” has been set up at Zion’s Bank, 3 S. Main Street, Cedar City, Utah 84720, to help with funeral and medical costs.

Michael Aaron

Michael Aaron is the editor and publisher of QSaltLake. He has been active in Utah's gay and lesbian community since the early 80s and published two publications then and in the 90s.

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