Police: Man assaulted during attempted robbery inside Fairmount church

- Police say a man was attacked at a Philadelphia church after mass. The incident was caught on camera.

“I didn’t even know I was bleeding until he left and then I saw blood going all over.”  He’s been going to mass at Covenant of Divine Love at 22nd and North Green Street in Fairmount every morning for the past 40 to 50 years.  But Sunday just before 9 o’clock something this 83-year-old man never suspected happened.

“He threw his arm around my neck like this and he said I want your wallet in a deep voice like that,” said the victim.

We’re not identifying him but he showed where a man cut him on the neck as he tried to rob him.  The victim says he was sitting in the back pew after everyone else had left mass in the chapel.  He wanted to continue praying. 

Police released church security camera footage of a man they say is the suspect entering the church.  The victim says he didn’t think anything of it when the man first walked in.

“He came in walked up to the front, then came back, he got around me and grabbed me around my neck like that like this and I had my head down. I said help. Help. I’m being mugged back here and the sister that was praying turned around and the other sisters came running out,” he said.

What happened concerns neighbors. Some who say they don't feel safe in a place of worship anymore.

“I certainly wouldn’t especially after what happened in Pittsburgh. You have to be careful no matter where you are these days,” said Buster Smith.  Natalia Charova also lives in the area and said, “That’s awful. It’s really concerning. Hopefully it never happens again.”

The victim says he isn't nervous about returning to church but that he will sit in the front from now on.

“I believe in strongly in a guardian angel and I think my guardian angel would never have let that happen to me unless there’s a purpose. This time this fella is going to get caught," he said.  The victim and another parishioner say this is the third time in six months someone has been mugged here.  Police have not confirmed that yet.  Church officials say they don't want to comment on what happened while police are investigating.  The suspect got away out of a side door. He did not get any money from the victim.

 

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