Temple trespasser arrested after assaulting officers

St. George Temple, St. George, Utah, December 2009 | Photo by Cami Cox Jim, St. George News

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.”

Police arrest man at the temple, St. George, Utah, July 19, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Trevor Sanders, St. George News
Police arrest man at the temple, St. George, Utah, July 19, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Trevor Sanders, St. George News

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.

Police arrest man at the temple, St. George, Utah, July 19, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Trevor Sanders, St. George News
Police arrest man at the temple, St. George, Utah, July 19, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Trevor Sanders, St. George News

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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  • Mark July 20, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Maybe they had taken his temple recommend and he wanted to talk about it.

  • smilewith me July 20, 2014 at 9:56 am

    I had mine taken away but I bought a new one.

  • happytobehere July 20, 2014 at 9:57 am


  • bob July 20, 2014 at 11:49 am

    you can buy them on the internet for $50. its as good as the real thing

    • St. George Resident July 20, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      What a waste of $50.

    • EL JEFE July 21, 2014 at 8:21 am

      I heard you can get one in specially marked boxes of cereal…..sorry can’t remember name of cereal. But I think they were by Kellogs.

    • Bob's Buddy July 22, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Still sad they wont let you in huh bob?

  • Mark July 20, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Not a waste, you will have status within the cult even though everybody knows it was purchased.

    • St. George Resident July 21, 2014 at 10:56 am

      Status within the cult? Like I said, waste of $50.
      Religions are built on Red Herring fallacies. They are businesses that take advantage of the gullible by fooling them into thinking they will reap some intangible reward in exchange for their tangible assets like time or hard-earned money. Very sad.

      • bob July 21, 2014 at 12:49 pm

        Some folks have to stay in the cult to keep peace with the family. That $50 can save a bundle of cash vs. a full 10%

  • Utardian July 20, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    What’ this? He was wearin’ flip flops? String him up! … non mormons.
    Ed. ellipsis.

  • Jaek July 21, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Doubt you would say the same thing if he had done this at any other building.

    • St. George Resident July 21, 2014 at 11:13 am

      And I doubt you would be so defensive if the commenter had insulted any other religion.

  • Robb Willie July 21, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Wow, fake temple recommends, what a scandal. Anyone, if they want to badly enough, can get into a temple. There are no armed TSA agents, just some older person looking at your recommend. Yeah, you can buy a fake recommend. Big deal.

    • jmbrowning July 21, 2014 at 11:37 am

      The TSA are not and never have been armed, FYI.

  • Jim Swarthow July 21, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    A person speaking incoherently and acting in this manner without evidence of drug use is probably undergoing a mental health issue. It is too bad that this story isn’t presented with more sensitivity to what is likely going on. The officers at the scene should have been trained about the likelihood of this being a mental health issue, it may have ended without incident had they approached it that way.

  • Secret Undies July 22, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Funny how those temple worthy mormons are some of the most crooked people on earth. Were Swallow and Shurtleff temple worthy? How about those mormon businessmen who used their bishop positions to victimize people in their ponzi schemes? Some of those women who cover up to go in the temple are seen around town in skin tight outfits so everyone can see their bodies. Some of the men are violent control freaks. Was that guy who shot his GF & her daughter temple worthy? Then how many of those mormons with marriages sealed in the temple get divorced? Quite a few? The mormon god apparently isn’t the true god to repeatedly make those kind of errors with these clan folk. Worst part, though is how the flock of sheep are oblivious to the criminals and freaks in their fold who have obtained the temple worthiness. I wouldn’t want to go in their temples. It might place a curse on me as I believe it curses many of those who walk into those money symbols of control and coercion.

  • Secret Undies July 22, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Do breast augmentations make mormon women more temple worthy?

  • Secret Undies July 22, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Ogden should change its name to Augmentation, as in breast augmentation.

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