Pastor short of cash, but robbers agree to take a check

Lacking cash, a Kansas City church pastor wrote checks for two men during an armed robbery Wednesday night.

Since the checks were written to each robber by name, police think they know who the robbers are. Police were looking for the men Thursday night.

The crime occurred about 9:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Eternal Life Church, 2600 E. Ninth Street.

The Rev. Tony R. Caldwell told police that a man walked into the church during Bible study and sat in the back row. Once the study ended, the man asked to speak with Caldwell.

Caldwell said he invited the man, who had been kicked out of one of the church’s men’s programs last week, into his upstairs office. Caldwell said the man told him he wanted back in the program, which provides food and shelter to men who are homeless or have recently been released from jail.

As they talked, a second man, who also was kicked out of the program last week, walked into the office. The second man had been banned from the building over theft allegations.

“I knew I had a problem at that point,” Caldwell said. “They both smelled of liquor, and their eyes were all bloodshot.”

The second man asked for money and said: “It’s up to you. I mean, your congregation could get shot up or your church could burn down.”

Caldwell told them he didn’t have any cash.

The second man then said, “You think I’m playing?” and pulled up his shirt to reveal the handle of a gun.

Caldwell said he was worried about the dozen or so church members still downstairs.

“I wasn’t going to push this issue,” he said.

He offered to write each man a check for $150. The men then left.

Caldwell said the experience would not deter his church from helping troubled men.

“This just shows there is a problem out there with drugs and alcohol, and it’s not going to change unless someone steps up to help,” he said.

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