An American Mormon missionary working in Brazil is now being hailed as a hero by some after he disarmed, then beat a gunman who tried to rob him and his Christian brother Saturday.
The incident caught on surveillance video just before noon on Saturday, according to a time stamp, is now making the rounds online where some are singing praises for the hero missionary.
The surveillance video shows two men riding up to the missionaries and two other bystanders on a motorcycle. One of the men then hops off the motorcycle and approaches the missionaries. He then quickly moves to one of the bystanders and retrieves something then turns back to the missionary with what appears to be a gun.
Rather than turning the other cheek to the gunman, the hero missionary reacts quickly and grabs the gun from the would-be robber and briefly points it at him. The robber's accomplice then jumps off the bike and tries to get the gun from the missionary who quickly throws it over a nearby fence and engages the man in a fearless brawl, punching and kicking his attacker in the street as his missionary companion and others look on. The thief runs off after another biker intervenes.
LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins told KUTV Wednesday that he believed the incident took place in the Manaus, Brazil Mission, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church has a temple in the city of Manaus which is located on the Amazon River, inland in the north of Brazil.
"We are grateful that this incident did not end tragically, either for the missionaries or the other individuals involved. The guidance given to missionaries is to avoid conflict. 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," Hawkins said in a statement.
International security expert David Acosta told Fox 13 that the attack on the missionaries is a typical street crime tactic in Brazil which can become deadly, however.
"They come up on a motorcycle, they get off. The one guy is the getaway guy and the other guy is the armed robber and they will shoot you ... they will shoot you," Acosta said.
The security expert would not comment on the reaction of the missionary in the video but advised that generally, it's best to give the robbers whatever they want if you don't think your life is in danger.
"If you don't feel like your life is for sure in danger, like you're going to be shot, then just hand over whatever it is you have. Don't resist because it is so dangerous. So dangerous to resist," Acosta said.
He explained that he was once involved in a similar scenario and his reaction was the same as the missionary's. He warned, however, that missionaries fighting back could make them a target.
"These robbers, that's their turf. ... If those guys hold a grudge, it's just that white shirt and plaque that become a target," he said.
Hawkins said the missionary was not seriously hurt if at all and noted that Church policy is not to comment on missionary injuries unless they are life threatening.
He also did not identify the missionaries but said they were being temporarily removed from the area.