Police Catch One Church Robbing Suspect

Update:  Police have caught suspect Rufus Thomas.

EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (KTVI) – Three men burst into an East St. Louis church service and robbed 70 parishioners at gunpoint. Victims say that crime is out of control. Instead of being angry at the suspects, they are praying for them.

Annette Wiliams is still shaken up after 20 of her relatives went to the Ira Grove Freewill Baptist Church on Belmont in East St. Louis for Sunday night service.  Just after 5pm three men wearing bandanas over their faces busted into the church with guns and robbed people inside.  They went straight to the pulpit and forced everyone to get on the floor.  Within 15 minutes all the parishioner’s money, wallets and cell phones were gone.

“A young man walked in and said session is over and aimed a gun at the preachers head.” said  Rhonda Robinson.

Rhonda Robinson is still in shock over the whole incident. She says the worst part is that it happened in front of her 5 year old son Jaydin. The robbers are believed to be teenagers.

“It was tragic actually that people would come in to the house of the lord and do these things. I had my babies there they were terrified there were other children there yelling.” said Rhonda Robinson.

“It saddens me because now your telling me you cant to church without getting robbed and we strive to make it safe and we are going to do everything in our power.” said Chief Michael Floore of the East St. Louis Police Department.

Police are still looking for Howard Dotson Jr.  Both suspects are from East St. Louis, Illinois and are known to frequent the Gompers Housing development.  Click here to see the wanted poster.

Crimestoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.  Call 1-866-371-8477 or go to: http://stlrcs.org/

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