ST. GEORGE – Workers and patrons in the St. George LDS Temple received a surprise visit Saturday night when a man entered the temple’s reception lobby and became disruptive, yelling incoherently and refusing to leave.
“We were called down there on a male that had walked inside the temple and was saying some things that didn’t make a lot of sense,” Sgt. Dave Williams, with the St. George Police Department, said. “And he was asked to leave and refused to leave. He eventually walked out of the temple and was still on temple grounds, still kind of yelling and carrying on.”
Officers arrived at the temple, which is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shortly after 7 p.m. and made contact with the man, identified as Tavita Hamilton, of Salt Lake City. As officers spoke with Hamilton, he became belligerent and attempted to reenter the temple.
“When we tried to stop him, he tried to assault the officers on scene,” Williams said.
Officers were able to subdue Hamilton quickly, and he was placed under arrest. Medical was called in, Williams said, and Hamilton was cleared medically. No officers at the scene were hurt, and no one inside the temple or on the grounds was injured as a result of the incident.
Williams said it is not known at this time what led to Hamilton’s erratic behavior.
“Nothing was found on him as far as substance abuse,” he said.
LDS Church members participating in temple activities typically enter the temple wearing Sunday attire – shirts and ties for the men and dresses or skirts for the women. Hamilton was dressed in shorts and flip-flops at the time of the incident, Williams said.
“There’s requirements to go in there and everything – I’m not sure where he fits on that,” Williams said.
Hamilton was booked into Washington County’s Purgatory Correctional Facility on one class-A misdemeanor charge for assaulting an officer, one class-B misdemeanor charge for resisting arrest, and one infraction for disorderly conduct. His bail stands at $2,526.
Hamilton was still in custody as of 10:45 p.m. Saturday.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
Update: St. George News received the following statement from Hamilton’s sister, Tavita Hamilton, on July 19:
My little brother is the most kind loving person who is suffering from mental illness. He is going through so much and it’s been such a heart ache for my family just know he loves the temple and his illness causes him to act in such a way. Pls keep my baby brother in your prayers thank you
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