WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Six missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are safe after being held at gunpoint by a West Valley City man Thursday night.
According to the West Valley City Police Department, the six male missionaries were following up on a contact from Wednesday who expressed interest in learning about their religion.
They met up with 45-year-old Paul Marquez at his residence in the Windsor Mobile Estates at 3281 W. Coventry Park Drive around 8 p.m. Police said the missionaries reported Marquez was intoxicated at the time.
“Marquez became very erratic, produced a firearm, pointed it at the missionaries, threatened them, and held them there. My understanding is he held them there for an hour,” said Lt. M.T. Johnson with the West Valley City Police Department. “I was told he also showed pornography to one of the missionaries.”
Lt. Johnson said Marquez’s demeanor switched back and forth between erratic and calm. During one point when Marquez was calm, the missionaries said they were able to talk their way out and convince Marquez to let them leave. Once they were able to leave, that’s when they called police.
“In my opinion, they handled it very, very well since they were able to get out whether it was because they were able to remain calm or talk their way out,” he said.
Investigators said Marquez is not allowed to legally have possession of firearms. When officers arrived, they said two additional guns were found inside the home.
Marquez was arrested without incident and has been booked into the Salt Lake County Jail. He faces six counts of aggravated kidnapping, six counts of aggravated assault, and three counts of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person.
Sgt. Kevin Hansen with the Salt Lake County Jail said Marquez’s name is an alias and said he also goes by Alfredo Paul Herrera.
According to police, none of the missionaries were injured.
Daniel Woodruff, spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said the names of the six missionaries involved will not be released at this time.
When asked about the unusually high number of missionaries involved, Woodruff said additional missionaries were asked to accompany the original two. He issued this statement to ABC4 News:
“We are grateful these six missionaries were able to calmly and appropriately deal with this situation and leave without injury. The Church is working to provide any needed support and counseling to them as they recover from this alarming ordeal.”Daniel Woodruff, spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints