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Payson police searching for multiple additional suspects in hate crime case

Posted at 7:27 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 21:27:47-05

PAYSON, Utah — Payson police are still searching for two to four additional suspects after a missionary with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was assaulted by several suspects while on his way to teach a family in Payson, Utah. Brothers Malachi Bay West, 20, and Sebastian Francis West, 19, of Payson have been charged with a hate crime in connection to this case.

According to a probable cause statement, on Jan. 28 a black Panamanian missionary was with his partner on their way to a family's home when the assault occurred near 300 N and 100 E in Payson. The two missionaries were approached by several individuals. The victim stated the suspects began yelling and cursing at him, calling him racial slurs and telling him to get out of their "hood" and go back to where he came from. The victim said he was also physically assaulted. During the entire assault, the suspects did not target the victim's partner who has been identified as Caucasian.

“This is my first time as the Utah County Attorney charging a hate crime,” David Leavitt, Utah County Attorney, said.

A new hate crime law in Utah was passed in 2019.

The suspects were originally charged with a class B misdemeanor assault, but with the addition of the hate crime and group enhancements, the two are now being charged with a third-degree felony.

“In our county, we simply will not tolerate this kind of crime,” Leavitt said.

Hate crimes impact more than just the initial victims, he said.

“There are many people who today feel less safe because their racial their racial ethnicity was targeted,” Leavitt said.

If you have any information on this incident, call Payson police.