Audio recording leaked after reported accidental gun discharge in LDS Church in Provo

A Provo man is under investigation after her reportedly accidentally discharged a gun inside a meetinghouse of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, September 16, 2018. (Photo: KUTV)

PROVO, UTAH (KUTV) — Walter Stewart, a 74-year-old man from Provo is under investigation after he reportedly accidentally discharged a .22 caliber gun inside an LDS Church house in Provo on Sunday.

The bullet pierced a wall and entered a room where a group of young women aged 12 to 18 were meeting.

While the man's actions were negligent, police said they don't believe he intended to hurt anybody.

Stewart is under investigation and not under arrest.

After the shooting, an audio recording surfaced on the website MormonLeaks. It's reportedly of a church leader explaining the incident to the young women who were in the room when the bullet whizzed by them.

In the recording, a man, apparently a Church leader, tells the young women that while it's not a good idea to bring a gun to Church, "the world we live in there are also individual rights to do things. We have to respect that."

The man also asks the young women to not talk about the incident or post anything about it on social media. He tells them it's OK to tell their parents, but if the incident were to get public attention, it could become a news story.

"That will hit headline news. It could go national and create a situation that's hard to control," the man says in the recording.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, through spokesman Eric Hawkins, issued a statement saying the man took the gun to church following target practice.

He said this about the Church's gun policy:

Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. The carrying of lethal weapons, concealed or otherwise, within their walls is inappropriate except as required by officers of the law.

In the recording the man tells the young women that the gun was in the church because of a threat to a church member in another ward, but he couldn't explain more.

Lieutenant Brian Taylor with Provo City Police Department said prosecutors will likely consider prosecuting Stewart for discharging a firearm within city limits and trespassing with a firearm in a house of worship.

Taylor said both are low-level offenses.

The state Bureau of Criminal Investigation will also review the case and determine whether Stewart's concealed carry permit will be rescinded.


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