Masked robbers entered a church and robbed the pastor, who was in the middle of his sermon. The entire robbery was caught on the church’s live stream, the New York Times reports.
Bishop Lamar M. Whitehead, 44, asked his church, “How many of you have lost your faith because you saw somebody else die.” Then, the pastor raised his hands and said, “Alright, alright, alright,” as at least three armed men in masks entered Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries in the southeastern Brooklyn neighborhood of Canarsie.
“As I got down, one went to my wife and took all her jewelry and had the gun in front of my 8-month-old baby’s face,” Whitehead told CBS News. They “took off my bishop’s ring, my wedding band and took off my bishop’s chain, and then I had chains underneath my robe, and he started tapping my neck to see if anything else. So that means they knew. They watched, and they knew that I have other jewelry.”
Shrieks can be heard from the congregation during the robbery, but no congregants can be seen until after the assailants left. “My church is still traumatized,” Whitehead said. “The women and children are still crying. Babies are crying.”
Whitehead came to prominence in New York City in June when he says he urged a man accused of killing a Goldman Sachs employee to surrender to police.
The pastor also has ties to New York City Mayor Eric Adams and considers him a mentor. “No one in this city should be the victim of armed robbery, let alone our faith leaders and congregants worshiping in a House of God,” Adams said in a statement. “The N.Y.P.D. is investigating this crime and will work tirelessly to bring the criminals involved to justice.”
Many news reports about Whitehead over the Summer referred to him as “flashy.” There has also been criticism about him touting his wealth on his Instagram feed. He defended himself in an almost 40-minute Instagram video about the robbery. “It’s about me purchasing what I want to purchase,” Whitehead said. “It’s my prerogative to purchase what I want to purchase.”
After the suspects grabbed more than $1 million in jewelry, they fled on foot and jumped into a white Mercedes-Benz, according to police. No suspects have been identified or arrested.
The pastor told CBS News that there were approximately 100 people in attendance, but according to CNN, police placed the number at 20-25.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/People Images
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”