A burglary suspect is behind bars after a gun-toting pastor said he caught him in the act.
Police said Miguel Otero-Rivera, 49, used a brick to break a window and enter the Seminole Heights Baptist Church around 1 a.m. Thursday, setting off the alarm.
When Pastor Clifton “Brent” Adams and Deacon Jack Young went inside, the lights in the main hall were off, except for the church’s “Mission Tampa” office. Through the window, they could see a man holding a laptop owned by the church. He had a bag, another laptop already inside. He had broken another window to get inside the office.
“That’s when I knew I had to stop him because he’s right there,” Adams told the Miami Herald.
He yelled, raising his gun so the suspect could see it.
“I yelled at him and said ‘Hey, get down!’” Adams said. “He put his hands up, went to the ground.”
He held Rivera at gunpoint until police arrived. The unfolding drama, he said, took about 10 minutes.
Stealing from a church is “perplexing, ” Adams said, because it’s not just stealing from any organization.
“He’s stealing from the people who really need help,” he said.
Adams said anyone tempted to steal from a church should visit the pastor to get assistance instead. Police say Rivera is homeless.
Rivera, who cut his hand on the broken glass, was taken to the hospital for treatment before being booked into jail, said a spokesman for the Tampa Police Department.
Rivera is facing several charges, including burglary, grand theft and drug possession.