CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — Police were looking into whether two Mormon missionaries who had been going door to door were shot because they had witnessed a crime and said the men were not victims of a hate crime, a police spokeswoman said yesterday.
Morgan Winslow Young, 21, of Bountiful, Utah, died as a result of his injuries Monday evening, police said.
Police declined to identify the second man, who remained hospitalized, but church spokesmen Dale Bills and Michael Purdy said he is Joshua Heidbrink of Greeley, Colo. Police said he is 19.
The men, who had been going door to door doing missionary work, were walking alongside a road without sidewalks just after 6 p.m. Monday when a man approached, shot them and ran away, police said.
One of the victims ran to a nearby nursing home seeking help, police said.
Mr. Heidbrink’s uncle, Craig Heidbrink, told a Salt Lake City television that the two missionaries first saw a man apparently shoot at someone else on the street, who was not hit. The gunman then turned and fired at the missionaries, he said.
“He shot Joshua first and Joshua knocked him down, crumbled,” the uncle told WKSL-TV. “Then he shot the other guy once in the face and somewhere else. I’m not sure where the other shot was.”
Asked whether she could confirm the uncle’s account, police spokeswoman Christina Golden said authorities were investigating whether the men were shot because they had witnessed something they shouldn’t have.
“We are looking into all motives, whether it was robbery or anything else that may have provoked the suspect,” Miss Golden said.
Detectives do not have a suspect but ruled out that the two men were victims of a hate crime, Miss Golden said. She declined to elaborate because the investigation was ongoing.
“We don’t believe they were shot because of their religion or what they do,” she said.
Parents of the victims planned to travel to Virginia.
Winslow Young, the grandfather of Morgan Young, said a church official visited the family in Bountiful to inform the members of the crime and accompanied them to the airport.
Morgan Young was a graduate of Bountiful High School, where he excelled in computer science. He had spent nearly two years in Virginia on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He was scheduled to return home in March and planned to study computer science at Brigham Young University.
“He was a very outgoing young man, and he was as excited as could be to be going on his mission,” said Winslow Young, of Centerville, Utah.
The family was in regular contact with Morgan Young, who never expressed any concerns about his safety, his grandfather said.
He described his grandson as easygoing and happy in his work for the church, and as a leader for the younger children in his extended family.
“Whenever we had the family together, the other grandchildren would be climbing all over him,” he said.
Morgan Young was the oldest of four children.