Two arrested after shootout at LDS temple

Idaho Falls Police are investigating a shooting incident that took place near the Idaho Falls Temple on Sunday.

Two men have been arrested after reportedly shooting at one another during an altercation that took place outside the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

According to news outlets, 28-year-old Austin Kuck went to confront 23-year-old Frederick Free because he believed Free had taken part in a recent break-in at his home. The two met in the parking lot of the temple early Sunday evening. Based on current reports, the meeting seems to have been pre-arranged. It is unclear why the meeting took place in the temple parking lot or if any involved are members of the Church. Kuck found his digital video recorder in Free’s truck and an argument ensued.

The gun was pulled out at some point during the argument. Kuck inquired as to whether Free intended to shoot him. In response to Kuck’s “yes,” Free shot him in the hand and escaped. The truck was being driven by an unnamed woman. After that, Kuck opened fire on the car, hitting it five times before it fled. The events were corroborated by a passerby in the parking lot, and video evidence was produced by the temple’s security guard. At around 7:30 p.m., Kuck called the police and reported the event. He was then transferred to a nearby hospital for treatment. The parking lot was littered with shell casings and blood.

Free has been charged with aggravated battery and possession of a controlled substance after he was found with fentanyl pills. The combined charges are punishable with up to 21 years in prison. Kuck’s self-defense claim was dismissed because the vehicle was leaving the scene when he fired his gun. Kuck has been charged with aggravated assault and unlawful discharge of a weapon at an occupied vehicle. Those charges each carry a maximum sentence of five years.

Temples of the Church generally have robust security systems, including a team of security guards, security cameras, and alert systems within the temple itself.

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