ST. GEORGE — A Sunday morning church service was disrupted by a man who allegedly entered a chapel in St. George completely nude after parking his vehicle on the church lawn, an incident that prompted multiple calls to emergency dispatch from concerned parishioners, authorities say.
The incident began Sunday shortly before 10 a.m. when emergency dispatch received multiple calls reporting a disturbance at one of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ chapels located on North Westridge Drive in St George, according to charging documents filed with the court.
St. George Police Officer Tiffany Mitchell told St. George News that during the many calls, emergency dispatchers could hear a man “screaming in the background” as concerned citizens reported what sounded like a chaotic situation.
Mitchell also said that many of the witnesses said they believed there was about to be a shooting at the church.
Police responded and spoke to multiple witness who said the suspect, later identified as 40-year-old Jeremy David Miller, drove his Jeep onto the lawn of the chapel and got out of the vehicle wearing only his underwear.
The man then stripped down and began removing various items from the trunk of his vehicle and scattered them along the chapel lawn, the report states.
Still nude, the suspect then reportedly entered the church, where about 100 people, including children of various ages, were worshiping, and there he allegedly slammed a child’s car seat onto a table and knocked the sacrament tray and water to the floor.
The suspect then drove off before officers arrived, leaving tire marks in the grass as he did so.
Officers canvassed the area in search of the suspect who was located at the residence he shares with another family member several minutes later. When officers arrived they found a Jeep that matched the description of the one witnesses reported parked in the driveway. Police say when they felt the hood of the vehicle, it was hot to the touch – an indicator it had been driven recently.
On the ground outside of the residence officers found a large framed photograph that was on the ground with the shattered glass, leading officers to believe it had been thrown to the ground, according to the report.
Officers knocked on the front door, and the suspect exited the residence “shouting and cursing,” the report states. The suspect continued to shout, curse and struggle against authorities until the handcuffs were secured and he was detained.
During a search incident to arrest, the suspect stood in front of his residence shouting and swearing. Officers also learned the photo they found damaged in the walkway belonged to the suspect.
After being advised of his Miranda rights, the suspect invoked his right to remain silent and was transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility, where he was booked on multiple charges, including one count each of misdemeanor lewdness and third-degree felony lewdness involving a child. He also faces criminal mischief, assaulting a police officer and interfering with an arrest.
Mitchell said the suspect may have been suffering from some type of mental health condition at the time of the incident; but even so, his behavior was terrifying for those who witnessed the incident, including a number of small children who were in the chapel with their families on Sunday.
Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits the release of arrest booking photos until after a conviction is obtained.
This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.