Men arrested in attack on black missionary charged with hate crime

Local News

UTAH COUNTY (ABC4 News) Two men arrested in connection with an attack on a black missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were formally charged with a hate crime.

The Utah County Attorney’s Office charged Malachi Bay West, 20, and Sebastian West, 19, both with one count of assault with hate crime and gang enhancements.

The victim, identified only as a black missionary from Panama, and his companion were walking to a house of people they were going to teach in Payson when they encountered a group of people wearing dark hoodies, according to charging documents.

The suspects shouted a racial slur at the victim, and told him to get out of their “hood,” he told police. Police said threw his cellphone on the ground, threatened his mother and called him a “church boy” before physically attacking him by punching him in the head and face and kicking him.

With the announcement of charges Tuesday, Utah County Attorney David O. Leavitt called the acts “despicable.”

” My deepest sympathies extend to the victims in this case, which not only include the victim but also to those in our county who may feel less safe because they belong to a minority. Everyone deserves to have an expectation of safety. I take my responsibility seriously to do my part to protect our society from these types of horrendous acts.” said Leavitt in a statement.

So far, Sebastian West and Malachi West are the only two arrests made related to the attack. The original police report indicates the victim encountered a “group of 6-7 males.”

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.


Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.