Update: Suspect re-arrested after hate-crime assault of black LDS missionary in Payson

Sebastian Francis West. Photo Courtesy: UCSO

PAYSON, Utah, May 27, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A suspect has been re-arrested after the Jan. 28 physical and verbal assault of a black missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Payson.

Sebastian Francis West, 19, was initially arrested on Feb. 13, along with Malachi Bay West, 20. The Wests are both from the same address in Payson. Nathan Thomas, 19, of Nephi, was booked into jail on Feb. 19.

On Tuesday evening, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office Special Enforcement Team arrested Sebastian West on a $25,000 warrant related to the hate crimes arrest made by Payson police in February. He is now being held in the Utah County Jail.

Utah County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Spencer Cannon said by way of a YouTube video: “He was booked into jail (in February) and bailed out of jail, once he bailed out of jail he was arrested again a couple of days later on some unrelated warrants and got out of jail. A judge back in early March issued an arrest warrant for Mr. West.”

West was taken into custody at approximately 8 p.m. Tuesday. He is being held on $25,000 bail.

On the night of the attack, Payson police responded to a report of an assault in the area of 285 N. 100 East.

At the time of the assault, the victim was with his companion and they were on their way to teach people in the area, the statement said. Both the victim and his Caucasian companion were wearing white shirts, ties, slacks and had jackets on, with their name tags for the LDS Church 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 three men’s nearly identical probable cause statements said. “The victim told responding officers that these individuals were wearing dark hoodies and that some of them were wearing red bandanas covering their lower face.”

The victim stated that the people who initiated the attack 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 the 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 statements 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.”

The victim said that the suspects also were 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 statements say. 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 statements 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. The victim reported that during the assault  his prescription glasses valued at $1,000 were broken.

The LDS Church released a statement following the arrest of the second suspect.

“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 a statement released by spokesman Daniel Woodruff. “Mission leaders have worked to provide them the care and support they need. We appreciate the efforts of law enforcement as they investigate this incident.”

Probable cause statements in the case made no mention of the black missionary’s white companion suffering physical injuries, and said the white missionary was not targeted. The victim attacked identified himself to police as a black Panamanian.

The Wests and Thomas face initial charges of:

  • Criminal mischief, a third-degree felony
  • Assault, a class A misdemeanor

An estimated three other people were also involved in the assault, the probable cause statements said.


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