Police ID suspect accused in armed robbery of 4 LDS missionaries in West Jordan

West Jordan police took an intoxicated man, Michael Jon Willie (inset), into custody after he allegedly brandished a firearm at four LDS missionaries and demanded money from them outside of the Exxon gas station at 3731 W. Jordan Landing Blvd. on Friday night, Jan. 11, 2019. Photo: Gephardt Daily/MonicoGarza/SLCScanner

WEST JORDAN, Utah, Jan. 12, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — New details have been released after four missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say they were approached in West Jordan by a gun-wielding man demanding cash.

In the Friday incident, the men say they walked with the suspect to a nearby gas station, where they purchased food and requested cash back, then gave both to the armed man.

Michael Jon Willie, 25, was arrested near the scene on Friday night by West Jordan Police officers. Willie was booked into jail on suspicion of:

  • Four counts of aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony
  • Four counts of kidnapping, a first degree felony
  • Carrying a concealed loaded firearm, a class A misdemeanor
  • Carrying a dangerous weapon under the influence of alcohol/drugs, a class B misdemeanor
  • Threatening to use a dangerous weapon in a fight, a class A misdemeanor
  • Intoxication, a class C misdemeanor
Michael Jon Willie. Photo: Utah County

The missionaries told police the suspect approached them near the Wood Gates Apartments, at 3851 W. Cobble Ridge, and started a conversation.

The victims said the man, since identified as Willie, smelled of alcohol, and informed them he was intoxicated, the probable cause statement says.

“The victims/witnesses stated the suspect then grabbed a pistol from his waistband (which was concealed) and presented the muzzle towards their directions,” the statement says.

“The witness/victims stated the suspect started waving the firearm (9mm Springfield XD) carelessly during their contact. The suspect also pulled out a knife and brandished it towards the victims. The suspect then proceeded to ask the four male missionaries for money.

“The four male missionaries, in fear of their personal safety, continued to talk to the suspect and even offered to give him money, but needed to get cash out of an ATM,” the statement says.

“The four victims believed that the suspect would have shot them because of his
intoxicated state if they did not comply.”

The suspect followed the young men to the Exxon gas station at 3731 W. Jordan Landing Blvd. The missionaries purchased undisclosed food items and requested $20 back in cash, giving the food and the $20 to the suspect.

“The victims exited the store and left the area while the suspect remained inside the gas station,” the statement says. “The victims notified 911 of the incident.”

Police driving to the gas station made contact with a man who fit the description of the suspect — a Native American man with a blue bandana on his head, who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.

Officers found a firearm — a 9mm handgun Springfield XD, with a fully loaded magazine inside the firearm — on the suspect’s waistband area during a Terry frisk. The handgun was concealed on the suspect’s waistband area.

The missionaries confirmed the suspect was the man they had interacted with, and Willie was arrested. Willie was found with $20 and the food items the missionaries had purchased at the Exxon.

After being read his Miranda rights, Willie denied brandishing or presenting a gun in the presence of the witnesses, the statement says.

Willie was arrested at the scene and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail system, where he is being held in lieu of $80,000 bail.

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