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PAYSON, Utah, Feb. 13, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A Payson man was arrested Thursday morning after he and five others allegedly attacked a black man serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after they uttered racial slurs.
A probable cause statement from Utah County said Sebastian Francis West, 19, is facing charges of criminal mischief, a third-degree felony, and assault, a class A misdemeanor. Later Thursday evening, another individual, Malachi Bay West, 20, was also arrested, and is facing the same charges. The other individuals have not been taken into custody.
On Jan. 28 at approximately 7:10 p.m., officers responded to a report of an assault in the area of 285 N. 100 East in Payson. The victim, who identified his race to officers as black Panamanian, is a missionary with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the statement said.
At the time of the assault, the victim was with his companion and they were on their way to teach a family in the area, the statement said. Both the victim and his companion were wearing white shirts, ties, slacks and had jackets on, with their church name tags clearly visible.
“The victim reported to officers, that as he and his companion walked towards the house of the family they were going to teach, they encountered roughly six individuals,” the statement said. “The victim told responding officers that these individuals were wearing dark hoodies and that some of them were wearing red bandannas covering their lower face.”
The victim stated that these individuals were standing near the fence of the family’s house they were going to, and were yelling and cussing.
The victim reported to officers that suspects began the altercation with him, by yelling and swearing at him. He said they repeatedly shouted a racial slur and told him to get out of their “hood” and go back to where he came from.
“The victim reported that one of the suspects approached him and took his cell phone out of his hand and threw it into the roadway, causing damage to the screen,” the statement said. “The victim said that when he walked over to retrieve his phone the suspects followed him and continued yelling racial slurs and swearing at him. The victim said that one of the suspects also said he was going to slit his mother’s throat.”
He said that they were also mocking his religion because he was clearly identifiable as a missionary for his church by calling him a “church boy” and telling him to leave their neighborhood, the statement said.
The victim told officers that one of the suspects had a pair of brass knuckles and was wearing one on each hand. The brass knuckles reportedly had sharp spikes on the ends.
“The victim told officers that the suspect wearing the brass knuckles formed fists with his hands and presented his fists and brass knuckles toward the victim in a fighting or boxing-like stance,” the statement said. “The victim and his companion told officers that the suspects also encouraged each other while calling the victim racial slurs and swearing at him. The suspects did not at any point target the victim’s companion, who is Caucasian.”
The suspects then allegedly attacked the victim, punching him in the head and face, kicking him in the torso, and shoving him to the ground, the statement said. While the victim was on the ground the suspects allegedly held onto his legs and waist in an attempt to keep him on the ground, the statement said.
The victim fought back, shoving the suspects off of him while trying to free himself from their hold, and the suspects fled the area. During the assault the victim reported that his
prescription glasses valued at $1,000 were broken.
Both charges against the suspects are gang-enhanced and considered hate crimes.
Both Sebastian and Malachi West were transported to Utah County Jail with their bail set at $5,000 each.