A bishop was robbed at gunpoint of more than $1 million in jewelry while in the middle of giving a live streamed sermon at a church in New York City on Sunday, police said.
The bishop, Lamor Miller-Whitehead, was speaking at his Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministry on Ramsen Avenue in Brooklyn when three people barged and demanded jewelry from him and his 38-year-old wife, a spokesperson for the NYPD confirmed to UPI.
“The individuals removed more than $1 million worth of jewelry from the two victims,” the spokesperson said.
“The individuals then fled the location on foot, entered a white Mercedes Benz and were last seen traveling eastbound on Avenue D. The victims were not injured. The investigation is ongoing.”
Video footage from the live stream of the service was obtained by WABC-TV and shows three masked and armed suspects enter the church as Miller-Whitehead, dressed in maroon with gold trim, put his arms up before lying on the floor as one stands over him to search his pockets.
Miller-Whitehead, known for his expensive tastes, himself has served five years in prison for a $2 million identity theft scam and was released in 2013. He founded the church after his release and was ordained as a bishop in 2016.
“I just want to give you a quick synopsis of how the devil moves,” he said in a video on his Instagram after the robbery.
“Sometimes when you are a known bishop, it is a gift and a curse. When you have a celebrity status, it is a gift and a curse. You become the talk of the town.”
Miller-Whitehead, 44, then walked his supporters through his recollection of the robbery and said he saw the armed men “come into the sanctuary with their guns.”
“I told everyone to just get out. I didn’t know if they wanted to shoot the church up or were just coming in for a robbery,” Miller-Whitehead said.
“They were all black men. They had masks but I could see their face. They came in and they took all my wife’s jewelry and they took all my jewelry and they left.”
Miller-Whitehead defended his taste in expensive jewelry but said he “was born without jewelry,” adding that the suspects had ripped his collar off when snagging his necklace.
“It’s not about me being flashy. It’s about me purchasing what I want to purchase. It’s my prerogative to purchase what I want to purchase,” he said.
The bishop said the men pointed a gun at his eight-month-old child and noted that his congregation was left “traumatized” by the incident.
“I ain’t never scared, and I’m not up here being boastful or talking bad about nobody, but you have these women and children crying still,” Miller-Whitehead said.
“That’s not gangster. That’s a layup, like, ‘Oh, I robbed a church.’ You don’t get no points for that.”
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