Sword-wielding Utah man arrested for attacking churchgoers at worship service

The Cathedral of the Madeline of Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Cathedral of the Madeline of Salt Lake City, Utah. | Screengrab: YouTube/Issac Goeckeritz | Filmmaker

Utah police have arrested a man who entered a Catholic church during Sunday morning worship and reportedly attacked parishioners at random by punching them with his fists and striking them with a wooden sword. 

Chandler Grillone, 31, was arrested on Sunday morning after he started attacking people at the Cathedral of the Madeline in Salt Lake City, reportedly doing so at random.

Grillone is facing two felony charges of aggravated assault, a felony charge of property damage below $5,000, a misdemeanor assault charge, and charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with a police officer, according to ABC affiliate KTVX.

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According to a probable cause statement, Grillone entered the cathedral and allegedly struck two people with a wooden sword, then hit a third person with his fists, breaking the person’s glasses.

Grillone’s actions were deemed unprovoked, with the probable cause statement noting that the alleged attacker was uncooperative when he was being taken into custody by authorities.

“[Grillone] twisted away and refused to get into the police car,” noted the probable cause statement, as quoted by NBC affiliate KSL 5 TV. “[Grillone] braced his head and neck against the door preventing him from being placed in the back of the police car … [and he] was placed in a WRAP for his safety during transport.”

According to its website, the Cathedral of the Madeline was built in 1909 at the behest of the Right Rev. Lawrence Scanlan, the first Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake.

“The architects were Carl M. Newhausen and Bernard O. Mecklenburg. The Cathedral combines a predominantly Romanesque exterior with a Gothic interior,” stated the church. “The property on which the Cathedral sits was purchased in 1890 for $35,000. The cost of the cathedral construction itself was $344,000.”

According to a report by the conservative Christian organization the Family Research Council that was released in February, there were 436 attacks against churches last year, which was more than twice the number reported by the group in 2022.

From January through November 2023, the FRC report found at least 315 acts of vandalism, 75 acts of arson or attempted arson, 10 gun-related incidents, 20 bomb threats and 37 other incidents at churches.  

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