Shortly before noon on Tuesday while classes were still in session, Shawn Holes, known colloquially as the campus preacher or Shawn the Baptist, was pepper sprayed while preaching on the Centennial Mall.
The evangelist claims he had only been on the south side of Montana Hall for about 10 minutes when a young man wearing jeans and a dark hoodie ran at him from the east side of Montana Hall.
The individual then pulled out a large can of pepper spray and sprayed the preacher. While attempting to duck out of the way, the spray “got all over my head and face and left shoulder,” Holes said.
According to Holes, a passerby who is a staff member at MSU, was also affected by the attack, getting some of the airborne capsaicin in her eyes. The individual then fled to the northwest toward Leon Johnson Hall.
The attack was severe enough to warrant medical attention, but Holes was not transported to the hospital.
Police have no suspects at the moment but are actively investigating the crime. University Police Department’s Chief of Police, Robert Putzke, says that the individual, if caught, would likely be charged with assault and could face up to six months of jail time and up to $500 in fines.
Shawn the Baptist was back on campus Wednesday with a sentinel MSU police officer watching from Reid Hall.
“I always find the kids here at Montana State to be very respectful and kind,” Holes said. “So that was really unusual.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact the MSU Police Department at 994-2121.