Bandits hold up church office
Money won’t go far warns Reverend By Kim Lucas
Stabroek News
September 19, 2002

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Two armed bandits carted off more than $100,000 of penny bank savings yesterday after holding up a 75-year-old reverend and her two assistants at the Lodge Truth Church on Norton Street.

At the time, Rev Una Barker, Assistant Minister Pamela Barker, as well as Carmen Byron, were in the church office checking off monies banked that day.

According to Byron, the men - one of whom had dreadlocks - first went to the church office at about 4:40 p.m., asking whether there were icicles for sale.

The woman said the men left after she said no, but returned less than half and hour later and robbed them. The dreadlocked assailant whipped out a gun and immediately demanded the cash.

“As soon as they come through the door when they came back, one guy pulled out the gun from his waist [and said], ‘Nobody don’t move! Hit the ground and give we all the money!’ and they went straight to the basket where we store the money and took out the money. The [other man] went around the table and took away my bag and pushed it in his haversack.”

She said only after she pleaded with him, did he return her handbag, minus her cellular phone. The woman claimed the men then turned their attention to the assistant minister and unsuccessfully tried to strip her of a hand band that looked like gold. They gave up after she resisted.

Rev Barker was their next victim. The bandits snatched the old woman’s gold chain from her neck and then wrestled her for her handbag and gold rings.

“When they scrambled my chain, I held my bag...I was resisting, because he [one of the bandits] was saying if I holler he will shoot.

He was pointing the gun to me. He say, ‘What you got in your bag? You got money in your bag?’ I said, ‘No, I come to church. I got books in my bag’ and I hold on my bag so he didn’t get in my bag. He was fighting with my rings and I said, ‘No! You can’t get my rings off my finger’,” the 75-year-old minister told Stabroek News.

She maintained that she was not afraid of the bandits and vowed that the money they stole, banked primarily by children, will not last very long.

“The money wouldn’t last them long and something will happen to them... We would have to pay back the people. But I feel is something set up, because this church here is 32 years and for the 32 years we have been carrying out that penny bank to help people at Christmas time. This is the first time something like this has happened,” the reverend said.

Banking takes place every Wednesday at the church from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The bandits struck while the elders were tallying the books.

After the robbery, the two men walked out the churchyard, headed north into Chapel Street, and made good their escape. Some residents in the area claimed to have seen them turn into Joseph Pollydore Street.