By Linda Kor
A Mesa man has been arrested after it was alleged that he purposely drove his Ford Escape into the Heber LDS Church on Thursday, Oct. 31.
The family of Kevan Leroy Smith, 57, contacted Mesa Police Department with concerns over his behavior and that he had gotten in a vehicle and left the area. Later that afternoon at approximately 4 p.m. witnesses at the church in Heber called 911 and reported that vehicle matching Smith’s had driven across the lawn, up the front steps, through the front doors and into the foyer of the church as people there were preparing for a Trunk or Treat.
“There were about 300 to 400 people in the building, mostly children. It was very fortunate that no one was hurt,” explained Navajo County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Jim Molesa.
When the assailant backed the vehicle away from the building and fled down Highway 260. Officers with the Department of Public Safety and deputies with the sheriff’s office responded to the calls and began searching for the vehicle. The abandoned vehicle was discovered a short while later on the side of the highway at the Coconino County border and Smith was spotted walking on a nearby forest path. When confronted by officers, Smith failed to respond to their commands and a Taser was used to subdue him.
Smith was booked into Navajo County Jail on charges of aggravated criminal damage, and two counts each of endangerment and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. No clear motive was given for the incident.
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By Linda Kor