Black Mormon missionary attacked in possible hate crime

National News

In this Thursay, Feb. 13, 2020 photo released by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office shows suspect Malachi West, 20, of Payson, Utah. Authorities are investigating an attack on a black missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a possible hate crime. The suspects, Malachi Bay West, 20, and Sebastian West, 19, not seen, were in custody but had not yet been charged as of Friday, afternoon. Neither has an attorney listed. (Utah County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah authorities are investigating an attack on a black missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a possible hate crime.

Two men were arrested Thursday on suspicion of assault, and charging documents show hate crime is under consideration. The NAACP expressed outrage about what allegedly happened and church officials said they are concerned about the incident.

The victim and his missionary companion were preparing to go to a house of people they were going to teach Jan. 28 in the central Utah city of Payson when they encountered six people wearing dark hoodies, charging documents show.

The assailants shouted a racial slur at the victim, who is Panamian, and told him to get out of their “hood,” he told police. They threw his cellphone on the ground, threatened his mother and called him a “church boy” before punching him in the head and face and kicking him, the document shows.

The victim fought back and eventually freed himself. His prescription glasses were broken during the incident.

Police say the victim’s white missionary companion was not targeted during the attack. Like all missionaries for the faith, widely known as the Mormon church, the men wore white shirts and ties with clearly visible name tags identifying them as church missionaries.

The suspects — Sebastian West, 19, and Malachi Bay West, 20 — were in custody but had not yet been charged as of Friday afternoon. Neither has an attorney listed.

Payson is a city of 20,000 people about 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City.

The NAACP wants all six people to be charged with hate crimes, said Jeanetta Williams, president of the organization’s Tri-State Conference of Idaho, Nevada and Utah.

“The NAACP is outraged over the hate crime that occurred in Payson between six individuals that targeted a Black Panamanian missionary because of the color of his skin,” Williams said in a statement. “We are alarmed about the physical assault and destruction of personal property.”

It’s unknown why the other four people have not been arrested. A phone message left with Payson police was not immediately returned.

The Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said they appreciate the efforts of law enforcement and are providing support to the victim.

“We are concerned about what happened to two of our missionaries serving in Payson, Utah, in January and are grateful they escaped serious harm,” said church spokesman Daniel Woodruff.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Recent Videos

Hypertension

Thumbnail for the video titled "Hypertension"

Snow Likely To Slow Down The Monday Commute For Many

Thumbnail for the video titled "Snow Likely To Slow Down The Monday Commute For Many"

NFP Program

Thumbnail for the video titled "NFP Program"

College Softball

Thumbnail for the video titled "College Softball"

College Basketball

Thumbnail for the video titled "College Basketball"

Top Plays

Thumbnail for the video titled "Top Plays"

Mandaree Sexual Abuse

Thumbnail for the video titled "Mandaree Sexual Abuse"

Klobuchar Visit

Thumbnail for the video titled "Klobuchar Visit"

Starving Rooster Closed

Thumbnail for the video titled "Starving Rooster Closed"

Robert's One Minute Forecast 2-23-20

Thumbnail for the video titled "Robert's One Minute Forecast 2-23-20"

MSU Broadcasting Dept.

Thumbnail for the video titled "MSU Broadcasting Dept."

College Softball

Thumbnail for the video titled "College Softball"

WDA Hockey

Thumbnail for the video titled "WDA Hockey"

State Wrestling

Thumbnail for the video titled "State Wrestling"

Fire Department Dinner

Thumbnail for the video titled "Fire Department Dinner"

High Cholesterol Drug

Thumbnail for the video titled "High Cholesterol Drug"

Coronavirus May Become Pandemic in the U.S.

Thumbnail for the video titled "Coronavirus May Become Pandemic in the U.S."

Klobuchar in Fargo

Thumbnail for the video titled "Klobuchar in Fargo"

Do Not Call Registry

Thumbnail for the video titled "Do Not Call Registry"

Mexican Restaurant One Year

Thumbnail for the video titled "Mexican Restaurant One Year"
More Video

KX News Trending Stories

Don't Miss

Daily Pledge

More Daily Pledge