Pastor says he and his wife were robbed of more than $1 million in jewelry while preaching
Kristina Sgueglia, CNN
(CNN) — A flashy Brooklyn pastor known for wearing designer outfits and extravagant jewelry says he was robbed along with his wife of more than $1 million while he was preaching at church Sunday.
Police say they received a report that three people entered the Leaders of Tomorrow church Sunday with firearms and removed the jewelry pastor Lamor Miller-Whitehead, who goes by Bishop, and his wife were wearing. Police noted the investigation is “ongoing.”
Part of the reported incident was captured on video from inside the church. A portion of the livestream was obtained by CNN affiliate WCBS before it was removed and shows at least one perpetrator holding a gun on the pastor and interrupting his sermon.
“All right, all right, all right,” Whitehead says in the video, as he raised his hands and lowered himself to the floor.
The video is no longer available on the church’s livestream, but Whitehead told WCBS what happened.
“That — ‘all right, all right, all right’ — is pretty much stating that I don’t want, I’m not going to do anything, right, ’cause I know y’all coming for me, y’all coming straight to me. I don’t want my parishioners hurt,” he said.
“I got women and children there. 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,” he continued.
“Took off my bishop’s ring, my wedding band and took off my bishop chain, and then I had chains underneath my robe, and he start tapping my neck to see if (there was) anything else — so that means they knew, they watched and they knew that I have other jewelry,” he said.
Whitehead said there were gunmen with firearms raised to deacons at the door as well. There were about 20 to 25 congregants present, police said.
“My church is traumatized,” Whitehead said.
The NYPD said they received a report that the suspects took more than $1 million worth of jewelry and then fled the location on foot. They reportedly entered a white Mercedes-Benz vehicle and were seen traveling eastbound on Avenue D, police said.
Pastor highlights ties to Mayor Eric Adams
According to his bio, Whitehead attended the New York Theological Seminary and completed his studies with a certificate in Ministry in Human Services from the Theological Institution of Rising Hope Inc. It touts him as a licensed New York State Chaplain and a certified marriage and funeral officiant.
In 2013, he founded Leaders of Tomorrow Ministry in Brooklyn, his bio states.
His church bio also says he was “adopted as a mentee” by Eric Adams, the former Brooklyn Borough President and current mayor of New York.
“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 in a statement. “The NYPD is investigating this crime and will work tirelessly to bring the criminals involved to justice.”
Whitehead encouraged those responsible to turn themselves in to police.
“I forgive you and I’m praying for you, you know, and I hope that God delivers you from the mindset of who you are at this time,” he said.
Whitehead and his church have not returned calls for comment.
The pastor made headlines in June when he said he was involved in trying to negotiate the surrender of a man accused of shooting and killing a Goldman Sachs employee on a New York City subway. Police ultimately arrested the man before he could voluntarily surrender.
Whitehead’s verified Instagram account details his extravagant shows of wealth, including Louis Vuitton-emblazoned suits, large jewelry and flashy cars. In a video on Sunday night, he pushed aback against the media headlines referring to him as “flashy.”
“It’s not about me being flashy. It’s about me purchasing what I want to purchase,” he said. “It’s my prerogative to purchase what I want to purchase. If I worked hard for it, I can purchase what I want to purchase.”