A troubled New Mexico man, who was possibly under the influence of a variety of substances, caused a disturbance at The Gila Valley Arizona Temple on Wednesday morning.
According to temple president Keith Crock-ett, the man, identified as Anthony Gonzales, 24, of Silver City, N.M., got lost while traveling to a rehabilitation facility in Tucson and was searching for peace and tranquility. He saw the temple, thought it to be a pretty building and sought refuge.
Temples are sacred to LDS Church members and only baptized members who have received temple recommends may enter after its dedication. Visitors are welcome to peruse the temple grounds and attend open houses prior to dedication. The Gila Valley Temple also has a waiting room adjacent to its main lobby/foyer visitors may utilize as well as visitor bathrooms.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dedicated The Gila Valley Arizona Temple on May 23, 2010, in three sessions. LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson and fellow church leaders, including President Henry B. Erying, first counselor in the First Presidency and Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department, added mortar to the building's cornerstone prior to three dedicatory sessions. The temple is the third operating temple in Arizona (two are under construction in the Phoenix area) and is the church's 132nd temple operating in the world. Currently, there are 138 temples in operation worldwide with 14 under construction.
Members receive sacred ordinances in temples, including those that bind husband and wife together for eternity, as well as join children and parents. Participants also provide ordinances in the temple, such as baptism for those who have died without the opportunity to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ, according to information from mormon.org, an official church Web site.
"It is the house of God," Monson states in a video about temples. "All that occurs within the walls of the temple is uplifting and ennobling. The temple is a place of tranquility. It is a place of kindness and love and light."
Crockett told the Courier that Gonzales initially spoke to a temple worker briefly and was escorted outside. He quickly returned, however, and ran past the greeting desk where members show their temple recommends and into the women's dressing room. There wasn't anyone present in the room when Gonzales entered.
Another temple worker, who is a retired police officer, heard the commotion and escorted Gonzales from the dressing room to the foyer. At that point, another temple worker spoke with Gonzales and prayed with him, according to Crockett. After attempts to calm Gonzales failed, authorities were called to help with the situation.
"We kind of felt sorry for the guy," Crockett said. "Hopefully he'll get some help."
Graham County deputies were dispatched to the temple at about 8:55 a.m. Upon arrival, a Thatcher Police officer was already speaking to Gonzales, who had been brought outside the temple to the grounds by temple workers, according to Sheriff P.J. Allred. Gonzales was acting irrationally and allegedly said he had ingested a variety of substances, including crystal methamphetamine, marijuana, Oxycodone and bath salts – a quasi-legal substance sold not for human consumption but mimics meth or cocaine when abused.
"The guy was all sketched up," Allred said. "It was apparent he was under the influence of something."
Gonzales told authorities that he heard people discussing killing him while he walked around the temple grounds but couldn't see anyone. Gonzales said he wanted to go to rehab and officers gave him options to find help locally, according to Allred.
After Gonzales refused to leave the temple grounds, deputies placed him under arrest for disorderly conduct and trespassing. While deputies were taking Gonzales into custody, he resisted arrest but was quickly placed in handcuffs and removed from the scene.
Gonzales was booked into the Graham County Jail but continued to cause a disturbance and was transported to the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center. After treatment at the hospital, Gonzales was returned to the jail and appeared to be calmer the next day, according to Allred.