Church Crime Watch Jan. 27, 2024
First and foremost: Thank you for all of the prayers, texts, emails, DM’s, and comments regarding my current health issue. I love this Ministry we have all created here and I am lucky to have you.
Second: There is a lot of violence in this issue. I’m suspecting it is involving homeless, based on my experience dealing with homeless issues in California and how the crimes play out. We may be putting out specialized training in dealing with transients to help you avoid sickness and violence. Let me know what you think in the poll below.
Assault at Street Life Ministries in Redwood City
A 29-year-old man from Redwood City, California, was arrested for allegedly threatening a church employee with a box cutter. This incident occurred on the evening of January 23, 2024, at Street Life Ministries located in the 1300 block of Middlefield Road. The Redwood City Police Department reported that the man, carrying a box cutter, was detained near Spruce and Chew
streets following a witness report of the threat. The employee, along with two other witnesses, identified the assailant, who was subsequently charged with assault with a deadly weapon and booked into San Mateo County jail. Thankfully, no injuries were reported in the incident.
Colorado Man Sentenced for Church Arson
In Loveland, Colorado, a 22-year-old man was sentenced to 39 months in prison for committing a federal hate crime involving arson at a church. On January 19, 2023, the man set fire to the church by throwing Molotov cocktails, targeting the front door and the basement. He admitted to the crime, acknowledging his motivation was the religious character of the church and his intention to destroy it. This act was investigated by the FBI, ATF, and local Loveland Police and Fire Departments. The Justice Department emphasized the significance of protecting religious freedom and ensuring safety in places of worship. The collaborative efforts of federal and local law enforcement agencies were crucial in bringing justice in this case. (Just like I say each week, get a fire alarm and burglar alarm for your church).
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Ongoing Investigation of First Works Baptist Church Bombing in El Monte
Three years after the bombing of First Works Baptist Church in El Monte, California, the FBI continues its search for the suspects. On January 23, 2021, the church was attacked by at least two individuals, as seen in security footage. The assailants, a man and a woman, were recorded smashing a church window and throwing a lit object inside, resulting in an explosion. Following the incident, the El Monte Police Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department found a "post-blast" scene with blown-out windows and vandalized walls. A homemade bomb had detonated inside the church, leading to the evacuation of nearby homes and a bomb squad's deployment to ensure no additional devices were present. First Works Baptist Church, known for its controversial views on the LGBTQ+ community, was previously targeted by protests and labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Despite this, the authorities have not classified the bombing as a hate crime. The FBI continues to seek information on the suspects, described as Hispanic, and urges public assistance in the investigation.
Imitation Firearm Incident at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Long Beach
A 27-year-old man was arrested for brandishing an imitation firearm at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Long Beach, California. The incident occurred on January 21, 2024, when the individual entered the church on the 500 block of Olive Avenue and caused a disturbance. He was waving around a lighter, approximately 10 inches long, which resembled an assault rifle. Churchgoers managed to detain him until the arrival of the Long Beach Police. The man, a Long Beach resident, was arrested on multiple charges, including displaying an imitation firearm in public, brandishing a replica firearm, and disturbing a religious meeting. Additionally, he had an outstanding warrant. Fortunately, no injuries were reported during the incident. (It’s a good idea to have a weapons familiarization day at the range with your safety ministry. We did this in my agency and it was a lot of fun, while people got trained on various firearms, their functionality, and operations. This might prevent someone from mistaking a 10” AK47 from the real thing lol).
Stolen Church Van Involved in Police Chase and Burglary in Prince George's County
In Prince George's County, Maryland, two individuals were involved in a series of crimes using a van stolen from Clinton Baptist Church. The incident began with a burglary at a gas station in Clinton and escalated into a high-speed chase with law enforcement. The suspects, aged 51 and 50, struck and dragged a police officer along a busy highway while fleeing in the stolen church van. They were subsequently arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder, assault, and auto theft, among other charges. The officer who was dragged sustained minor injuries. The van, initially intended for transporting seniors and members with disabilities from the church, was heavily involved in the crime spree. Police are investigating potential links between these suspects and other burglaries in the area. Both suspects were held without bond, and the officer who discharged their firearm during the pursuit was placed on routine leave. (Even if you live in Mayberry, make sure you take the keys out of church vehicles and lock them away in the church in a hidden area in a lock box. If you are in a high crime area, remove all valuables and use anti theft devices. High crime area would include all of California 😂).
Burglary at Johnson Baptist Church in Gainesville
A 39-year-old man from Dunnellon was arrested for burglarizing Johnson Baptist Church in Gainesville, Florida, on the morning of January 20, 2024. Gainesville Police responded to a report of a loud bang at the church. Upon arrival, they discovered a broken glass door with a brick nearby and found the suspect sitting inside the church on a bench. Initially giving a false name to investigators, the man was subsequently arrested on burglary charges. This incident highlights the ongoing concerns of security at places of worship and the quick response of local law enforcement to such events.
Brooklyn Church Livestream Robbery Suspect Fatally Shot in New Jersey
In South Brunswick, New Jersey, a man wanted for the July 2022 robbery at Leader's of Tomorrow International Ministry in Brooklyn was fatally shot by U.S. Marshals. The suspect, involved in a high-profile robbery during a live stream church service, was confronted at MHO Inn and Suites on Route 1. He reportedly opened fire on the officers, who returned fire, resulting in his death. The suspect, along with two others who were previously arrested, allegedly stole nearly $1 million worth of jewelry from Bishop Lamor Whitehead and his wife while the bishop was preaching. No law enforcement officers were injured during the incident, and a female companion of the suspect surrendered without incident. Bishop Whitehead expressed forgiveness towards the suspect and offered condolences to his family. The incident is under investigation by the New Jersey Attorney General's Office. (To the Pastors reading this…. don’t show up to church with $1,000,000 in jewlery on you. I went down the rabbit hole looking up the “Bishop” and I was not surprised by what I found.)
Gainesville Church Burglary Followed by Unusual Incident
In Gainesville, Florida, a couple was arrested for burglarizing Parkview Baptist Church on Northwest 13th Street. Identified as James Amerski, 35, and Rebecca Silas, 42, the pair broke into the church on January 14, stealing items including a TV, DVD player, paper towels, and fall decorations, valued at around $750. The following day, the couple returned to the church, and although they couldn't re-enter the building, they engaged in oral sex on the church property. Gainesville Police Department officers arrested them as they attempted to leave. Both Amerski and Silas face charges of burglary, larceny, and drug-related offenses and were booked into the Alachua County Jail. (I’ll keep saying it…. get a burglar alarm and a 4k Video system that identifies facial features and can make out the make and model of a car in the parking lot).
Elderly Man Pepper Sprayed at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, Manhattan
During a Sunday mass, an unidentified man disrupted the service by walking to the altar and spitting on it. A 70-year-old church employee attempted to intervene but was assaulted by the intruder, who used pepper spray on him. The attacker, described as wearing a blue baseball cap, blue jacket, and khaki pants, fled the scene and was last seen heading east on Barclay St. The church employee sustained minor injuries but declined medical attention. St. Peter's Church, a historic site and federal landmark built in 1834, played a significant role as a sanctuary for rescue workers after the 9/11 attacks. The NYPD has released an image of the suspect and is seeking information from the public. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact NYPD Crime Stoppers.
Source: New York Daily News
$20,000 Burglary at Auburn Church in Placer County
A significant burglary occurred at a church in Auburn, Placer County, with approximately $20,000 worth of property stolen. The Auburn Police Department reported the incident, which took place on July 26. Following an investigation, two suspects were arrested on January 17 after a search warrant was executed at their residence in Auburn. The suspects face multiple felony charges. The Auburn Police Department has chosen not to disclose the name of the church to respect its privacy. (I train officers from this area regularly and they are great cops. They did a quick job of this burglary investigation. What helps the officers is having a burglar alarm for a quick response and a great video system so they can I/D suspects and hold them accountable).
Source: FOX40 News
Church Collapse in Downtown New London, Connecticut
In New London, Connecticut, a significant structural incident occurred when the First Congregational Church on Union Street collapsed on the afternoon of January 25, 2024. The church building was shared by First Congregational and Engaging Heaven Churches. Fortunately, no injuries were reported. According to Pastor Bob of Engaging Heaven Church, only one person was inside the building during the collapse and was unharmed. The New London Mayor Mike Passero provided photos of the collapse to WFSB. Emergency services responded to the scene, and the electric service company Eversource confirmed that the area was safe from gas and electric hazards. New London police have advised the public to avoid the downtown area near Union, Masonic, State, Eugene O’Neill, and Gov. Winthrop Blvd while emergency operations are underway. This incident highlights the importance of structural integrity and safety in historic buildings.
Source: Black Hills FOX