Bishop Robbed of More Than $1 Million in Jewelry at Gunpoint While Preaching on Live Video Stream
A harrowing armed robbery was caught on tape while a bishop was in the middle of a live-streamed sermon on Sunday.
Bishop Lamor Whitehead was in the middle of preaching when he says the backdoor of the room was kicked open and "three to four men walked in with guns." Whitehead knew they were coming straight for him and immediately complied with the men in an effort to keep his parishioners from being hurt.
I said, 'Alright, alright, alright,' pretty much stating that I'm not going to do anything because I know you're coming for me. You're coming straight to me. I don't want my parishioners hurt. I've got women and children there," said Whitehead, of Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries.
Whitehead is a pastor at Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries and believes he was being targeted after the publicity he received when he helped to turn in a suspect wanted for a fatal subway shooting back in May of this year.
The Bishop said the men also targeted his wife.
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. 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.
All of this was live-streamed in real-time while the pastor was being held at gunpoint. Whitehead said the men kept guns drawn on his deacons who were at the door while nearly 100 congregants were dropped to the floor in silence.
My church is traumatized. The women and children are still crying. Babies are still crying.
Whitehead says police have pledged to find those responsible. The suspects allegedly drove off in a white Mercedes vehicle and police have a license plate number.
Eyewitnesses also claim that the men changed clothing outside. Although his church was robbed by these men, Whitehead claims he is still praying for those responsible.
These men, they need to turn themselves in. I forgive you and I'm praying for you, and I hope that God delivers you from the mindset of who you are at this time.
According to reports, over $1 million in jewelry was stolen once all was said and done and the flashy pastor maintains the theory that the robbers knew exactly what they were coming for based on how direct they were with their actions.
Whitehead is aware that the media has referred to him as "the bling, bling bishop" due to his extravagant lifestyle, and believes that pastors should be able to get permits to carry pistols in the wake of this incident.
Luckily, no one was hurt during the robbery but there was no shortage of reactions on social media. For instance, a lot of people felt like the pastor's flashy lifestyle is what led the robbers directly to him—suggesting that his lavish lifestyle was due to the finessing of his parishioners.
Others felt that the pastor flexed his money, cars, and jewelry too often and too recklessly—which is what may have led to the robbery.
Others felt like the whole situation looked suspicious with some suggesting that the pastor set up the robbery himself.
Bishop Whitehead has responded to those making jokes about the robbery on his official Instagram account @iambishopwhitehead
The Mayor of New York released a statement through his spokesperson, saying the NYPD is working "tirelessly" to bring the robbers "to justice."
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. The NYPD is investigating this crime and will work tirelessly to bring the criminals involved to justice.
In the meantime, we will update this story as more information becomes available.