After a violent robbery last Wednesday, members of a Butchers Hill church were shaken but undeterred.
The robbery, which involved five teenage male suspects, according to police reports, occurred at about 10 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16, in front of Transfiguration of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church, at the southeast corner of Collington Ave. and Baltimore St.
Church spokesman Matushka Natalia said that the priest–Rev. Ioann Barbus–and his two sons and another young man were preparing the building for Easter weekend services.
When they stepped out in front of the building, “they were accosted by a gang of youths that pulled a gun on them and demanded they give up their belongings,” Natalia said.
Police reports state that victims reported that one of the attackers began to hit one of the victims in the face with his fist, and the suspects made off with about $20 in cash and an iPhone valued at $700 were taken.
Natalia said that Rev. Barbus stepped out to check on the commotion, and one of the youths put a gun to his chest before the attackers fled.
The police report states that they fled to the east on Baltimore St. The incident remains under investigation.
Natalia said that one of the young men who was attacked is a recent immigrant from Moldova who had just received his green card.
Though crime statistics indicate that robberies and assault have occurred at times in Butchers Hill, Natalia said that this was the first such incident that had involved the church, which has been at that location since 1963.
“This was very very troubling,” said Natalia, though he added that “the police response was very good.”
The incident did not deter church members from attending services over Easter weekend.
“People just came as usual because we sort of believe in a higher authority,” said Natalia. “Easter night, the church was very full; it was very heartening.”
by Erik Zygmont