A prominent Brooklyn bishop and his wife were robbed at gunpoint of more than $1 million dollars worth of jewelry during Sunday service, the NYPD said.
Bishop Lamor Whitehead was streaming a sermon online, with several other congregants in the room, when three unidentified armed men burst into the Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministry in Canarsie, Brooklyn and demanded the bishop’s jewelry and also robbed his wife, he said. No one was injured, police said.
Whitehead later elaborated on his account of the incident on social media.
“When I see them come into the sanctuary with their guns, I told everybody, ‘Get down, everybody just get down, everybody get down,’” Whitehead said in an Instagram live post.
He said a man then put a gun to his back as he laid on the floor and began to strip him of his jewelry. In detailing his account, Whitehead alleged the suspects knew their victim and were sent to him specifically, though a spokesperson for the NYPD said the case was still under investigation.
“They took my watch, took my jewelry, took my bishop’s ring, took my wedding band, and then they took my bishop’s cross,” he said. “I had my other chains underneath my shirt, and they tapped my back to see, because he knew, because I know they were sent, and he ripped my collar off just to get to my jewelry.”
Whitehead said the men then drove away in a white Mercedes-Benz.
An investigation into the incident is still ongoing, police said. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, the NYPD first reported that the jewelry stolen amounted to a value of $400,000. Later, the total was updated to $1 million. Police did not provide an explanation for the sizable jump in value.
“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," Mayor Eric Adams said through a spokesperson. "The NYPD is investigating this crime and will work tirelessly to bring the criminals involved to justice.”
On Monday Whitehead went live again on Instagram to announce a $50,000 cash reward for information leading to the arrest of the thieves.
“I want you to inbox me if you have any information or call the police,” Whitehead said. “I need these guys captured because they could’ve hurt somebody in my church.”
Whitehead was last in the news for his involvement in the surrender of Andrew Abdullah, the suspect in the fatal Q train shooting in May. The bishop reportedly claimed that Abbdullah’s family were congregants at his church, and reached out to him for help. At the time, it was the Fendi suit jacket he wore and Rolls-Royce he rode to the legal aid office that garnered the most attention, according to reports.
On social media, Whitehead addressed the criticism he’s received in the past for the expensive jewelry and clothes he wears.
“It’s not about me being flashy, it’s about me purchasing what I want to purchase, and it’s my prerogative to purchase what I want to purchase,” he said. “If I work hard for it I can purchase what I want to purchase.”