Federal authorities have arrested a man they allege was planning to storm the LDS Church’s Jordan River Temple and start shooting people.
Benjamin Speakman, 27, was charged with a single count of possession of an unregistered sawed-off shotgun. In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court late Tuesday and obtained by the Deseret News, Midvale police were called to Valley Mental Health’s facility on Feb. 2 and told by an employee that Speakman had showed up and told them “he was in possession of a pistol and a shotgun and was planning to kill himself and others.”
Gregory Hopkins, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, wrote in a probable cause affidavit that officers spoke to Speakman, who gave them the keys to his pickup. Officers found a handgun and two loaded magazines in the center console and the sawed-off shotgun behind the driver’s seat.
“Benjamin Speakman told the officer he thought about shooting his wife and mother-in-law,” Hopkins wrote. “Benjamin Speakman told the officer he was planning to go into an LDS temple and start shooting people in the temple with his AK-47 and then shoot himself with the shotgun.”
Midvale police called Speakman’s mother-in-law, who said she had found a shotgun and an AK-47 in their home. Inside a gym bag, ATF agents say they found the AK-47, loaded magazines, knives and a carrier to hold the magazines.
“Benjamin Speakman stated he had planned on killing his wife and then killing his mother-in-law at their residence. He was then going to go to the Jordan Temple and fight his way into the temple to the celestial room where he planned to kill himself with the shotgun,” Hopkins wrote. “Benjamin Speakman was asked if he was planning on shooting anyone at the temple and he said yes.”
Speakman was originally held under a medical watch at a local hospital, where charging documents said he was undergoing an evaluation. During an appearance in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, he spoke softly with U.S. Magistrate Judge David Nuffer, who appointed him a defense attorney.
“Your honor, we anticipate a grand jury indictment next Wednesday,” assistant U.S. attorney Carol Dain told the judge.
Speakman’s attorney sought his medical records pending an upcoming arraignment on Feb. 20. Nuffer ordered Speakman held in U.S. Marshal’s custody until then. He is being held in the Davis County Jail without bail.