A Pastor Punched and a Church Left Without Pennies

Local church victimized in a series of burglaries

By Arlene Borenstein
|  Thursday, Aug 18, 2011  |  Updated 6:13 AM EDT
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Pastor Punched, Church Left Without Pennies

Getty Images/National Geographic

Police have arrested a man for breaking into a Silver Spring, Md., church and punching the pastor.

Montgomery County police arrested 22-year-old Noe Guillen-Velasquez in the Jan. 9 incident at New Creation Baptist Church near University Boulevard West and Dayton Street. Also on that day, 40,000 pennies were stolen from the church. The pennies had been collected by children for the needy.

Guillen-Velasquez denies being involved in that theft, but Gazette.net reported he may actually be linked to two other burglaries.

"The burglary had been the third break-in reported at the church over the course of a month, said police officer Rebecca Innocenti. One burglary occurred Dec. 1 and another around noon Jan. 9 before the assault later that evening, Innocenti said. In the previous burglaries, a safe with church documents, an undisclosed amount of cash, a bible belonging to a church deacon and a water jug containing around 40,000 pennies that was part of a church youth group project were stolen, Innocenti said."

Guillen-Velasquez has not yet been linked to the previous robberies at the church, Innocenti said.

“Detectives are looking at the other burglaries to see if he is a possible suspect,” Innocenti said.

The person who attacked the pastor left a black knit hat, and that DNA evidence matched that of Guillen-Velasquez, police said. Pennies were also found on the floor of his home.

He has been charged with second-degree burglary and second-degree assault.

Some good news to report, New Creation Baptist Church resumed their penny collection and now has about 250,000 cents.

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