77-Year-Old Is Victim Of Armed Robbery At Winston-Salem Church

| November 6, 2009

Winston-Salem, NC — Police in Winston-Salem are trying to find the person who walked into a church dinner Wednesday night with a gun and demanded money.

It happened in the cafeteria at Salem Baptist Christian School where members of Salem Baptist Church were finishing a meal.

Cpt. David Clayton with the Winston-Salem Police Department said Thursday afternoon that an arrest is "imminent."

He said investigators are looking at the possibility that more than one person was involved.

A 77-year-old woman, who asked not to be identified, said she was sitting down counting tickets from the taco dinner as it wrapped up. That's when the armed robber came behind her and demanded money," she told WFMY News 2.

"He says, 'I want your money,'" she said.

She said she saw a gun when the suspect reached for a metal box with money collected for the dinner.

"He grabbed it with both hands, when that hand came up to grab the box, naturally the gun was pointing right at me, but it was so fast, I didn't notice it," she said.

"It happened so quickly that I didn't realize what was going on until someone started yelling, 'they took the money,'" said Ron Smith, a church member who was in the cafeteria during the robbery.

"I looked out the window and saw a guy jetting off, running, and I thought oh my goodness, what's going on," said Crystal Wilson, a church member who was working with a group of kids in the gym when the robbery occured.

The suspect was wearing a ski mask and a yellow or orange shirt or jacket.

He reportedly ran away.

The victim said she recalls yelling at him to come back.

"Why would he do a thing like this? What's going through this guys head to want to come and rob a church on wednesday night? I shocked me," Wilson said.

About 10 people were in the basement cafeteria when the robbery happened, including a young child, according to Wilson.

"I'm sure they're scarred for life with what they saw last night. I know I would be if I was their age and down there witnessing that," she said

"It's not an inside job, but they knew what was going on, and how the system worked. They knew what door to come in," Smith said.

News spread around the church, the school and across the street at Piedmont Baptist College Thursday.

"It really has everybody a bit on edge and actually shocked to think this could happen," said Nancy Epperson, a speech professor at the college.

"I was horrified. I was just shocked. To think that someone would just blatantly just walk into the church and steal," Epperson said

The doors at Salem Baptist can only be opened with key cards, but the doors to the cafeteria were unlocked Wednesday for the meal, according to Associate Pastor David Pattisall.

He said even before the robbery, a committee was already looking into more security for the church.

Pattisall said the robbery will lead to changes in the church's security.

According to information compiled by the Winston-Salem Police Department, there has been one other reported armed robbery at a Winston-Salem church since 2005. It happened Sept. 25 of this year at Exodus United Baptist Church on Francis Street. In that case, someone robbed a person who was hired to landscape at the church.



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Category: Church Security

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