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Irate Churchgoers Capture Armed Robber

July 10, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ Angry churchgoers decided not to turn the other cheek when an armed bandit disrupted their service. They chased, captured and clobbered the surprised gunman until police rescued him.

″I think he was glad to see us,″ Police Lt. Eugene Albright said. ″The police rescued him, then arrested him.″

Shawsharnold Stokes, 27, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was charged with two counts each of robbery and criminal possession of a weapon in Monday’s incident and a similar robbery Sunday.

Churchgoers told police the bandit burst into The Little Jerusalem House of Prayer in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn on Monday evening.

Stokes allegedly brandished a handgun, ordered everyone to stay back and stole the pocketbook of a woman in the front row pew before fleeing.

The 15 worshippers chased the bandit for about a block before they caught him and delivered their righteous wrath.

″They bailed out of the church and chased him,″ Albright said. ″They were not very happy. Some of the people lost control of their emotions.″

Stokes refused medical aid after his rescue and arrest, Albright said.

During questioning, Stokes admitted to an armed robbery of another storefront church Sunday, Albright said. He is also considered a suspect in a third robbery, police said.

In Sunday’s incident, the bandit threatened to fire a sawed-off shotgun if the 20 parishioners and their minister didn’t give him money, Albright said. The bandit made off with $286.

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