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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Preacher and his wife robbed of $1 million in jewelry during sermon

By Julian Mark Washington Post

Bishop Lamor Miller-Whitehead was live-streaming his Sunday sermon at the Leaders of Tomorrow International Churches in Brooklyn when he asked his congregation: “How many of you have lost your faith because you saw somebody else die?”

Moments later, three masked people armed with guns entered the church, according to police.

“All right, all right, all right,” Miller-Whitehead said as he got down on the ground and lay on flat on his stomach, according to clips of the incident, which was captured on the live stream. One of the intruders stood over Miller-Whitehead, appeared to take objects from the pastor and walked off with them.

All told, the intruders made off with more than $1 million in jewelry belonging to Miller-Whitehead and his 38-year-old wife, the New York City Police Department said in a statement to The Washington Post, adding that an investigation is ongoing and no arrests were made by late Monday.

“I want justice. I want these men arrested,” Miller-Whitehead, 44, said in an Instagram post on Monday, adding that he’s offering a $50,000 reward for “the arrest and the capture” of the perpetrators.

In an earlier Instagram post, Miller-Whitehead recounted portions of the incident that unfolded around 11:14 a.m. in Brooklyn’s Canarsie neighborhood. He said he was leading his morning service when three to four armed men entered looking “specifically for me.” As he lay on the floor, one of the men put a gun to his back, he said. One of them, he said, also pointed the gun at his child’s face.

They took his watch, bishop’s ring and wedding band, he said. Feeling that Miller-Whitehead had chains under his shirt, one of the men “ripped my collar off just to get to my jewelry,” he said. Miller-Whitehead said he felt he was in danger, and it would have been a “bad situation” if he had resisted.

“I felt the demonic force,” he said, adding, “I felt it push through the door.”

After the thieves took off, Miller-Whitehead said he chased them but lost them. Police said the armed intruders escaped in a white Mercedes.

Miller-Whitehead did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post early Tuesday.

Miller-Whitehead grew up in Brooklyn and started the Leaders of Tomorrow Ministry after spending six years in prison, according to an online bio. He was convicted of identity theft and grand larceny, convictions Miller-Whitehead maintains were illegal, the Associated Press reported. He made headlines in May when he attempted to broker the surrender of a suspect in a fatal subway shooting, the New York Times reported.

In his bio, Miller-Whitehead highlighted his ties to Mayor Eric Adams, saying he had been “adopted as the mentee” to Adams, formerly the Brooklyn borough president. Adams told the New York Daily News that he and Miller-Whitehead spoke by phone shortly after the robbery.

“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 told the Daily News. “The NYPD is investigating this crime and will work tirelessly to bring the criminals involved to justice.”

Miller-Whitehead said on Instagram on Sunday that his family and ministry were traumatized by the incident. “It hurts me because my church is hurt,” he said.

He also pushed back on criticism that his flashiness invited the robbery, saying that shootings have taken place at Brooklyn churches whose pastors were not “flashy.”

Just in May, a $2 million gold tabernacle was stolen from a Catholic church in Brooklyn.

“Let’s not be naive to the fact that the devil is real,” Miller-Whitehead said.