SALT LAKE CITY — An American missionary in Brazil caught on video disarming a man who was robbing him, his companion and two bystanders reacted "in the moment" to protect himself and his companion, and LDS Church spokesman said Wednesday.
Eric Hawkins said leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are thankful the missionaries are safe after two men on a motorcycle rolled up on them and two bystanders standing on a sidewalk in the church's Brazil Manaus Mission on Saturday.
"We are grateful that this incident did not end tragically," said Hawkins, the church spokesman, "either for the missionaries or the other individuals involved."
He said missionaries receive general instructions not to resist when confronted by thieves, but he noted that exceptions exist based on circumstances.
"The guidance given to missionaries is to avoid conflict," he said. "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.”
A video camera captured one man jump off the motorcycle and approach two bystanders and the two missionaries and pull out a gun. When the man turned the gun at the missionaries, one of them grabbed it and took it away. The man tried to get it back, but the missionary held him off and threw the gun over a fence.
The second assailant got off the motorcycle and attacked the missionary, who then fought with him across the street to the other side, then back out into the street again before the two would-be robbers fled.
The person who uploaded the video on a Facebook page said the missionary who fought back was an American. The church has not released his name.
More than 74,000 full-time LDS missionaries are serving in 418 missions around the world. Generally, they are far safer than their peers, according to a 2013 video from the faith's Missionary Department that cited World Health Organization statistics.