A New York City minister was robbed at gunpoint during the middle of a live-streamed service on Sunday.
Bishop Lamor Whitehead, who oversees Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries, was preaching the morning’s sermon when multiple armed men entered the church’s facility.
“I don’t want my parishioners hurt. I’ve got women and children there,” Whitehead told the robbers, according to CBS New York.
“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 added. “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,” he added.
“How many of you have lost your faith because you saw somebody else die?” Whitehead asked during his message shortly before the intruders interrupted the service.
The CBS New York report noted that about 100 people were in attendance during the service when the armed men entered the facility. No one was reportedly injured during the robbery.
The reported value of the stolen jewelry was claimed as approximately $400,000, according to a report by the New York Post. The jewelry included items taken from Whitehead, his wife, and possibly others in the congregation, according to police.
The church’s services are typically streamed and made available on YouTube and Facebook. The Sunday service involving the incident is not currently available, but video clips of the robbery can be found online.
Whitehead said he believes that the robbers targeted him after he helped turn in the suspect wanted in a deadly subway shooting in May, according to the report.
The church leader’s work extends beyond his congregation to the local Brooklyn community.
The bishop founded Leaders of Tomorrow International in 2013. Whitehead’s biography states he “was responsible for the Brooklyn Borough President Eric L Adams’ youth division in Brooklyn NYC representing over 1 million young people in the borough of Brooklyn.” The bishop also mentioned being a previous “mentee” of Adams when the now-mayor served as the Brooklyn borough president.
CBS News reported that the office of Mayor Adams released a statement regarding the incident.
“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. “The NYPD is investigating this crime and will work tirelessly to bring the criminals involved to justice.”
Adams has pushed for stronger gun control legislation since taking office. In January, the mayor called on the federal government to help “stop the flow of guns” after two NYPD officers were shot, including one fatally, in Harlem.
“It is an attack on the children and families of this city, and we are not going to win this battle by dividing lines between us. We must save this city together,” Adams told reporters, The Daily Wire reported.