Police are looking for two men who knocked a Connecticut pastor unconscious while while he was trying to buy a cellphone outside his Hartford church in a transaction arranged through Craigslist, according to police.
The pastor, Louis Borges, 54, sustained minor injuries during the "crooked Craigslist transaction" outside his church, Assembleia De Deus at 106 New Park Ave., around 4:24 p.m. Saturday, police said.
He answered an ad on Craigslist for a $400 cell phone he wanted to buy and agreed to meet a man in front of his Portuguese church where he serves as head pastor. He brought his adult daughter and teenage son with him for the transation.
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“The victim did almost everything right: had a witness with him, in a public place on the street. These things can still happen,” Hartford Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said.
He met the seller on the sidewalk and when the pastor turned over the money, a second man came up and punched the victim in the head. Both suspects then ran off with the money and the phone. Witnesses reported the suspects fled the area in a gray Chrysler Sebring.
When police arrived, they found the pastor on the ground, disoriented.
“I’m from Brazil. I know over there there is a lot of violence, but here? Was, well, weird. I was sad because I like him as our pastor,” parishioner Enoch Avelar said.
The victim was transported to Hartford Hospital and treated for minor injuries. A fellow pastor at the church said Sunday that he's still in the hospital, but doing better.
A pastor at Borges' church said he believes the incident is isolated.
"Just this problem outside, no in the church, no in the church. There's a problem outside,” said Assembleia De Deus Vice President Anisio Nagalhaes.
Police say the first suspect is described as male, approximately 5 feet six inches tall, 20-25 years old, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt that read “FLY” across the front. The second suspect is described as male, 140-160 lbs, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black sneakers and black sweatpants.
Anyone with information should contact Hartford police.
Police warn others to beware of fake listings on Craiglist, and meeting people in person for these social media transactions. Foley said the best place to conduct this type of business is in the police headquarters parking lot. They’ve designated it as a safe zone for all social media transactions.
“If you are arranging a social media transaction and someone doesn’t want to come to the police parking lot to do the transaction, it’s a red flag on a few levels and you should probably avoid it,” said Foley.
With crimes like this on the rise nationwide, it’s a warning worth heeding.
“There’s no safer place than the police parking lot,” added Foley.
The suspects are still at large. However, with the help of a picture his daughter took of one of the men, police say do have some leads.