CHEYENNE – Laramie County Sheriff Danny Glick said Friday it appears the county jail had its third suicide attempt in the past six months.
An inmate was taken to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center after being found unresponsive in his cell Thursday.
Bret Anderson, 34, was discovered by jail staff at 1:08 p.m., according to a news release issued Friday by the Laramie County Sheriff’s Department.
Anderson had been an inmate there since his arrest on Jan. 13.
He had pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree sexual assault by force, two counts of strangulation of a household member – all felonies – and one count of misdemeanor domestic battery.
Anderson had been let out of his cell for lunch Thursday morning, and was alone in his cell from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., according to the release. He was found unresponsive as inmates were being let out again after 1 p.m.
Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Capt. Linda Gesell said guards had observed Anderson walking around in his cell prior to becoming unresponsive.
Upon his discovery, deputies performed CPR on Anderson, and he was subsequently taken to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center.
Gesell said that as of 1:53 p.m. Friday, Anderson remained at the hospital. But when asked about Anderson’s condition, CRMC spokeswoman Kathy Baker said Anderson was “not listed as a patient.”
Given the conflicting statements, that could mean Anderson or his family requested the hospital protect his privacy, or it could mean he has died, been transferred or discharged. Laramie County Coroner Ron Sargent said he could not confirm or deny whether Anderson had died, and that any such announcement would have to come from the hospital.
Gesell said that until investigators can complete their work, she could not elaborate further on the circumstances surrounding Anderson’s health.
But Sheriff Glick, when asked whether it was an attempted suicide, said Friday, “That’s what it appears right now, yes.”
If investigating officers reach the same conclusion, it would be the third such case of attempted suicide at the jail in the last six months.
Convicted murderer Ron Zimmerman hanged himself at the jail the morning of Oct. 13, 2015, while inmate Hunter Lee Johnson died at CRMC on Dec. 27, 2015, five days after he also attempted to hang himself at the jail.
“I consider them freak occurrences; we’ve never had them happen before,” Glick said. “This is a rarity.”
Even so, Glick said that reviews of the policies and procedures at the jail were conducted after both of the previous suicides, and the department concluded that the deaths had occurred in spite of – rather than because of – jail procedure.
“We study every incident and take it seriously to see if we need to modify our policies,” Glick said. “We didn’t find any that we had to modify.”
Gesell added that the jail has strict protocols in place to protect inmates who may pose a danger to themselves.
“When someone receives bad news or is upset because of what happens in court, they are then cleared by an interview with mental health (staff),” Gesell said.
“I’m not saying that was the case in this situation. But anytime someone gets outside bad news from a family member, we always will get them pulled aside and talk to them extensively.”
Friday’s release noted that Anderson was not under any specific watch conditions prior to his discovery Thursday.