LDS church releases statement on Brazil missionary attack

Posted at 3:44 PM, Mar 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-15 23:39:37-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Reaction is pouring in from across the globe regarding a video showing an LDS missionary in Brazil violently fighting off an armed robber.

Kay Haney commented on the Fox 13 News Facebook page:

"I, like most every missionary I know that went to Brazil, was robbed, it was very scary."

Ryan Abeyta commented: "I had a similar experience in Rio, Brazil on my mission. It was less violent but still traumatic."

Shirlee Dickson of Layton has a son serving his mission in Brazil.

"He was robbed about a month to six weeks out, and all they got was five dollars," Dickson said.

Dickson said that is one of the key lessons all missionaries should follow: Never carry anything of value. She says she counseled her son to make sure to leave valuables behind, both for his safety and for the safety of other missionaries.

"They just don't want to be a target for anyone and they, so they carry nothing of value," she said.

Dylan Hansen returned from serving his mission in Brazil in October.

"Missionaries all look the same," he said. "To Brazilians, Americans all look the same. So they could hold a grudge, I hope that's not the case, but I would be a little worried about the missionaries in that area."

Despite the violent encounter captured on video, Hansen doesn't think people need to worry about visiting or serving in Brazil. He says for the most part, people were kind and often offered to help protect him if he encountered any threats.

"I don't want people because of one video for them to be worried about going to a country or worried for other missionaries, because this is one video of one act that happened one time," Hansen said.

LDS church spokesman Eric Hawkins released the following statement:

“We are grateful that this incident did not end tragically, either for the missionaries or the other individuals involved. The guidance given to missionaries is to avoid conflict. Every situation is unique, and as adults, missionaries must make decisions about their safety. In this case, the assailant had a weapon and the missionary reacted in the moment to protect his life and that of his companion.”

The missionaries involved in the incident have been temporarily removed from the area and are not facing any disciplinary action.