Bishop Lamor Whitehead says five to ten minutes into the sermon, he saw the door in the back of the room kicked open and three to four men walked in with guns. He believes he was targeted, the station says. The service was being livestreamed.
“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.
“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,” he explained.
The church’s livestream shows the gun being held on the pastor.
“They had guns on my deacons that was at the door,” said Whitehead.
What you don’t see on camera, Whitehead said, are around 100 congregants who were in the room. Men, women and children dropped to the floor in silence.
“My church is traumatized. The women and children are still crying. Babies are still crying,” said Whitehead.
According to police, the men took off in a white Mercedes. Whitehead said cops have a license plate and witnesses saw the men change clothes outside.
“These men, they need to turn themselves in,” Whitehead said. “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.”
Whitehead believes his family was targeted because of the publicity he received when he helped turn in the suspect wanted in the fatal subway shooting of 48-year-old Daniel Enriquez in May.
“I turned him in, but the media called me ‘the bling, bling bishop.’ They had my Rolls-Royce caw all over everywhere, and I feel that that played a part in this,” said Whitehead. “I think all pastors should be able to get permits for pistols.”
The NYPD is investigating and Whitehead said Mayor Eric Adams and top police brass have called him pledging support to find the suspects.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the mayor said, “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.”
No one was hurt during the robbery.