Police Search for ‘Praying’ Suspect Who Robbed Church

By EGP Staff Report

Police are asking for the public’s help identifying a man who knelt to pray before stealing donations for the poor from a Bell Gardens church.

The suspect, described as a male Hispanic, was caught on surveillance cameras June 15 as he robbed the donation box at St. Gertrudes Church on Garfield Avenue.

According to Bell Gardens police, the suspect entered the church through an exit door and made his way to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel, where he proceeded to pretend to pray. He then forced open a wooden donation box and stole the money inside, police said in a statement. The amount of money he got away with is unknown, police said.

Police called attention to the man’s actions which they said appeared to be an attempt to mix-in with parishioners at the church.

The suspect, who spent less than 15 minutes at the church, paused several times to pray at the altar, and is then seen on the video making the sign of the cross as he walks out of the church.

As of now, the investigation is “more of a fishing expedition, Bell Gardens Det. Don Leuschen told EGP. As of Wednesday morning, police had received two calls with tips; one saying the suspect was eating at a Subway and another that could lead to new trail for police to follow.

The suspect was last seen wearing a blue shirt and tan shorts.

The theft angered parishioners, especially because of the suspect’s use of religious practices.

“If you’re going to take something like that and still have the nerve to kneel and pray and do the sign of the cross, it’s mocking what we believe in,” parishioner Krystal Ledezma told CBS Channel 2.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Bell Gardens Police Department at (562) 843-4031.

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July 20, 2017  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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