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2 arrested for robbery of Brooklyn pastor at gunpoint during service

Bishop Lamor Whitehead
Bishop Lamor Whitehead preaching at Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries in New York City. |

Police have confirmed the arrest of two individuals suspected of robbing Brooklyn Bishop Lamor Whitehead of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Jewelry and holding his daughter at gunpoint during a livestreamed worship service in July. 

Two 24-year-old men, Juwan Anderson and Say-Quan Pollack, were arrested on Wednesday and charged with robbery in the first degree, with a 10-year minimum sentence sought by prosecutors. They are accused of storming a worship service at Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries on July 24 and robbing Whitehead and others at gunpoint. 

Police continue to search for a third suspect and believe that the church robbery might have been part of a series of robberies in the city.

"There's a pattern throughout the city — throughout the last few years — [of] high-end jewelry robberies being targeted," said Chief of Detectives James Essig of the New York Police Department, as reported by local media outlet Spectrum News

Both men are Brooklyn residents and have been previously arrested for incidents involving domestic violence and robbery.

The stolen jewelry has yet to be found.

Inspector Nicholas Fiore of the NYPD's Central Robbery Division said that the robbery must have been "pretty rough" for Whitehead. 

"[It was] a very, very violent robbery crew that we saw with no regard to anybody in the middle of mass, holding his child at gunpoint," Fiore said, as quoted by Spectrum News. 

Whitehead has received criticism for being overly flashy, as he drives expensive cars and tends to accessorize himself with high-priced jewelry pieces.    

In July, following the incident, Whitehead said the robbery caused him to "hurt" because "my church is hurt," adding that the "women and children that were in my church, my daughter, she's traumatized."

"Right now, she's still not even talking because of that experience. They had the gun in my 8-month-old's face. The women of my ministry, my wife, everybody is traumatized," he said. 

Whitehead said he "didn't know if they just wanted to shoot the church up or were just coming for a robbery. And they were all black men. They had masks, and they came in, and they took all of my wife's jewelry and all of my jewelry." 

"[The gunman] took my watch, took my jewelry, took my bishop's ring, took my wedding band, and then they took my bishop's cross, and then I had my other chains underneath my shirt. And he tapped my back … and ripped my collar off just to get to my jewelry," he detailed.

In mid-September, Whitehead removed a 47-year-old woman named Tarsha Howard, who disrupted his sermon and allegedly issued verbal threats toward him and his family.  The incident was captured on video.

Howard was arrested on the scene, and Whitehead was briefly detained at the 69th Precinct to allow police to hear both sides of what ensued within the house of worship. 

Howard was charged with trespassing and disrupting a religious service, while Whitehead was released from brief detainment with no charges, as police ruled that he "restrained" Howard with rightful intent. 

There was a second woman who disrupted the church sermon. She fled the scene. 

Lamor Whitehead
Scenes from a tense confrontation between Bishop Lamor Whitehead and an unidentified woman who disrupted his sermon at Leaders of Tomorrow International Churches in Brooklyn, New York, on Sept. 18, 2022. |

In the video, following Howard's interruption, Whitehead prayed for the woman by speaking in tongues, grabbed her by her neck and ushered her out of the worship building. 

"I allowed the lady to talk, speak her piece, curse me out and do whatever she wanted to do, but then she started to throw threats at my wife and started to charge at my wife. My wife had my baby in her hand. We're not going to have another rendition of my wife being in harm's way or my daughter being in harm's way," the preacher said.

"I took action and I grabbed the lady and escorted her out." 

Whitehead is also being sued over allegations that he scammed a woman out of her life savings. 

Pauline Anderson, 56, filed the lawsuit last September in the Brooklyn Supreme Court, seeking $2.45 million in actual and punitive damages.

Anderson, a former member of Whitehead's church, alleges that she gave Whitehead $90,000 to secure a home for her because she has low credit. But instead, he allegedly used the money to make a down payment on a $4.4 million mansion in Saddle River, New Jersey.

​​"Ms. Anderson was left with nothing but a vague promise by Mr. Whitehead to pay the funds back in the future followed by an assertion that he had no further obligation to do so," the lawsuit reads. 

In 2006, Whitehead was arrested in connection to a $2 million identity-theft scam, in which he was sentenced to 11 to 34 years in prison. He only served five years in prison and was released in 2013. 

Whitehead has publicly stated that he was "falsely convicted and arrested for a crime I did not commit." 

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