WESTMINSTER (CBS) – A church worker in Westminster was attacked while trying to help people in need on Monday morning.
An intruder entered the church’s basement and confronted a worker. The man had already entered the church’s food pantry and found the shelves bare.
“And she said, ‘Well we have food.’ And he said, ‘No you don’t.’ She said, ‘Yes we do, I can give you some food.’ He said, ‘You’re a liar’ and punched her,” said Pastor Chris Brown.
“She again stated that there was food upstairs, and again (he) accused her of lying. He tore her shirt,” said Lt. Mike McDonald of the Westminster Police Department.
The woman pushed the suspect away and scrambled to a nearby phone.
“She came here, dialed 911, and just left the phone off the hook,” said Pastor Brown.
She then scurried upstairs and locked herself in an office.
Police arrived within a minute or so, but the three-hour bloodhound-assisted search of the area for the suspect turned up nothing, as two nearby schools remained in lockdown.
“It can happen anywhere nowadays, really. I’m just happy they kept everybody safe,” said a parent of one of the students at the schools.
It was quite a stir in the normally quiet town of 5,600 people.
“We don’t normally see this out here,” said Lt. McDonald.
Pastor Brown said the intruder claimed to be seeking food for the church’s Feed The Hungry program, which was stored in the first-floor kitchen while the basement pantry is renovated.
“When somebody responds in that way, you see desperation,” said Pastor Brown.
He said the victim is rattled, but also frustrated that she couldn’t help the guy.
“As she states, it makes her all the more determined to help people because obviously, there’s a need,” said Pastor Brown.
The suspect is described as a white man in his 40’s.
In addition to locking the doors, Pastor Brown said he’s looking at some other things to help his staff “minister safely,” as he puts it.
The food pantry for the needy will stay open.