An LDS Church missionary serving in Ufa, Russia, was stabbed and killed Saturday by a band of assailants in what appears to have been a random act of violence.
His companion, who was stabbed in the stomach, remains in an Ufa hospital in stable condition. Ufa is about 750 miles east of Moscow.According to officials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Jose Mackintosh, 20, of Hiko, Nev., and Elder Bradley Borden, 20, of Mesa, Ariz., visited an LDS family in a high-rise apartment Saturday evening and left the home about 8 p.m.
The two rode down to the building's lobby in an elevator and were crossing the lobby when they met a group of men loitering there. According to witnesses, the men appeared to have been drinking.
Elders Mackintosh and Borden had partially made their way through the group when the men attacked and stabbed Mackintosh to death and wounded Borden.
The Mackintosh family was visiting relatives in Provo when they learned about the stabbing, said Douglas Miller, bishop of the Hiko Ward. The assault happened at midmorning in this time zone. Church authorities notified the family Saturday afternoon.
"It's a terrible loss," Miller said of the stabbing. "He's always had a special and cheerful spirit. It's a tragedy to all of us. I've known him most of his life and I'm going to miss him severely."
Elder Mackintosh is the son of Jose and Rebecca Mackintosh, Miller said. The family lives on a farm in Hiko, a southern Nevada town of about 600 approximately 90 miles north of Las Vegas. About 200 people belong to the Hiko Ward.
Word of the death was starting to spread around the small town Saturday night. John Lytle, 17, went to school with Elder Mackintosh at Pahranagag Valley High School.
"I just heard about it 15 minutes ago," Lytle told the Deseret News. "I knew him pretty well. It's very shocking. He was on the wrestling team, and he liked to hang out with his friends."
Richard Westergard, Elder Borden's stake president, delivered the news to the family Saturday afternoon.
"It was difficult to discuss something like this with parents," he said. "(The Bordens) have a lot of family here rallying around them, and they have a lot of support from church members. They're handling it as well as parents could."
President Westergard has known Elder Borden and his family for years. Elder Borden graduated in the top 20 of his class at Mesa High School. He has an academic scholarship waiting for him at Arizona State University, President Westergard said.
Elder Borden is a member of the Dana Ranch Ward in Mesa. He has four brothers, one of whom returned from a mission a couple of months ago.
The assailants were still at large late Saturday, church officials said.
Robbery does not appear to have been a motive since no money or valuables were taken. Whether the motive included hatred for Americans or for Latter-day Saints is unknown.
"It was a shock," said Elder L. Aldin Porter, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, late Saturday. "We mourn for the parents, for the families - and the whole church mourns."
A witness to the attack called police and the missionaries were taken to the hospital, according to church spokesman Don LeFevre. It is unknown whether Mackintosh died at the scene or at the hospital.
Mackintosh, the senior companion, had been on his mission just over a year and was due to be released next September. Borden began his mission last January.
Elder Porter couldn't say whether the missionaries of that mission, the Russia Yekaterinburg Mission, would be required to travel in groups of four instead of twos or spend more time in their apartments - safety measures that have been taken in the past following such incidents, including one earlier this year when two missionaries were kidnapped in Saratov, about 450 miles southeast of Moscow.
Thirty LDS missionaries are currently serving in Ufa - a relatively large city. Despite the well-publicized violent encounters of late, Elder Porter said it is unlikely that any missionaries would be pulled out of Ufa or, indeed, out of any other place in Russia.
There are currently seven LDS missions in the country.
"Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our missionaries, (but) this seems to us a totally isolated situation," Elder Porter said.
"It appears to be a random act. I think it would take a great deal more before we pull missionaries out of Russia. . . . The senior brethren will discuss the safety of our missionaries there, but they always do everywhere. We simply have to know more facts."
Elder Porter pointed out that the approximately 59,000 young men and women serving as LDS missionaries throughout the world are relatively safe compared to their contemporaries who are not on missions.
Nevertheless, serving a mission, by its very nature, presents some risk. It requires being out mingling with the populace - a populace that, necessarily, contains good and bad elements.
"It's so rare. The safest place in the world for young men and women of that age is in the mission field," Elder Porter said. "Even though they are not encased in a cocoon; they are out among people."
Over the years, several missionaries have suffered violence or tragedy:
- October 1997 - Missionary Daniel Lawson was shot in the face during a robbery attempt on the streets of a suburb of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- April 1997 - Another Argentina missionary, Orin Voorheis, was critically wounded in a shooting that left him brain damaged.
- Nov. 8, 1997 - Joseph Bookstaber, of New Jersey, was killed by a truck while serving a mission in Thailand.
- Aug. 4, 1998 - Eslantina Bravo Pico, 57, a counselor in the Relief Society, died in an earthquake while serving on a mission in Ecuador.
- March 27, 1998 - Kenton Martin, 20, of South Jordan, was killed when hit by a truck while waiting at an intersection in Tallahassee, Fla.
- May 12, 1998 - Renee Anderson, 66, of Salt Lake, was killed in a single-car accident while serving a mission near Abidjan on the Ivory Coast of Africa.
Her companion, Carlotte Dirae Lofgreen, 67, of Orem, died two weeks later from injuries sustained in the same accident.
- Aug. 1, 1997 - Linda Randle Jackson, 57, of Oak City, Millard County, died in a hit-and-run accident in Yerevan, Armenia, while serving in the Rostov Russia Mission.
- March 15, 1996 - Brian Michael Miller of Rexburg, Idaho, was killed by a hit-and-run driver as he walked along a dark highway in Connecticut.
- March 6, 1991 - Oscar Zapata, 20, of Piura Peru, was shot after getting off a bus in a remote mountain town of Tarma while serving a mission in Lima, Peru.
The Ufa stabbing is the second incident this year involving Mormon missionaries in Russia.
In March, two missionaries were abducted in Saratov, and held for $300,000 ransom for four days. The church never paid the ransom, but the missionaries were freed and two men arrested and later convicted.