PROVO (News4Utah) – Provo Police say that 74-year-old Walter Stewart accidentally discharged his concealed-carry firearm Sunday in an LDS meetinghouse; nobody was injured, but the bullet entered a classroom where a group of teenage girls were sitting.
Should the man have carried his firearm into the meetinghouse in the first place? The answer is a little foggy.
In general, concealed carries are welcome in all public spaces in Utah with a few exceptions, namely airports and most federal or state buildings. Private property owners determine the rules on their property. Churches fall in the gray area in between public and private.
Criminal Defense Attorney Bradley Henderson explained, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is listed as a church in Utah that does not want concealed carry weapons brought into their buildings.”
After the gun discharged, one of the young women in the room recorded what happened next and that recording was given to Mormon Leaks. In the recording, a man explains to the young women that the gun was in the building because of an incident involving a congregation member in another ward sharing the same building. The man in the recording says, “There have been some other threats against an individual in a different ward, so there is a level of precaution that the other ward has taken.”
He then asks the young women not to share widely what they’ve just experienced. “We appreciate you not spreading that around because it could incite the issue that they were trying to protect against. By chatter or social media or otherwise.”
News4Utah reached out to the Utah County District Attorney about whether the 74-year-old will be charged related to the event, but the DA’s office said they have not yet received documentation from the Provo Police Department.