A violent fistfight that erupted after a quarrel over saved seats during a missionary farewell and baby blessing at the Meadows Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Utah on Sunday has landed a 51-year-old man in jail.
According to Weber County Sheriff's Lt. Mark Lowther in a Deseret News report, a family which doesn't normally attend the ward was in the packed chapel on Sunday to support the baby that was being blessed and they were reserving seats in a pew for other family members.
When regular member of the ward, 51-year-old Wayne Dodge saw one of the reserved seats however, he chose to sit down in the pew which upset the celebrating family and the two factions exchanged angry words.
Tensions apparently only simmer during the rest of the service because the two sides simply picked up right where they left off in the pew when they ran into each other in the church parking lot at the end of the service explained Lowther.
The fight also further escalated between Dodge and a male member of the upset family.
"(Dodge) ended up throwing a couple of punches and striking this individual. He had some blood coming from his face, so he went inside the church to clean up. And when he exited the church, (Dodge) was in his car. I guess there was another confrontation," Lowther told Deseret News. Dodge allegedly hit the man with his vehicle.
"Ultimately, the victim ended up on the hood of the car," said Lowther. "(Dodge) exited the vehicle and some other people that attended the church service restrained him. And I don't know how, but he ultimately ended up in the bishop's office until law enforcement arrived."
The man suffered only minor injuries, but Dodge was arrested for aggravated assault and disorderly conduct.
Reactions to the fight have been varied with people siding with either side of the fight while other feel both parties acted irresponsibly.
"From personal experience, I know how frustrating it can be, when I show up for church on time, and cannot sit in the chapel, because families are saving seats for others who don't show up until some time later, often after the meeting has started. It seems so unfair. I can understand what may have motivated Bro. Dodge to sit in the open seats," noted BH from Utah, who commented on the report.
"It is very unfortunate that the feelings in the parking lot, escalated to anger and violence. Too bad someone did not turn the other cheek, and walk away. This will not only have an effect on the two families involved, but on many in the ward. Hopefully apologies will be made, feelings will be mended, and all can grow," added BH.
"Two wrongs don't make a right. Both parties were wrong for trying to enforce their position. Both parties had the responsibility to back down and take a chill pill. Obviously, in this case, neither party did," wrote Mountain Man of Salt Lake City.