Thief poses as beggar, robs deacon at gunpoint

Thief poses as beggar, robs deacon at gunpoint

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DETROIT, Mich. (WJBK) -

"I said Lord, I thank you for sparing his life, because he could have been left dead."

A group gathers for prayer at the Greater Ship of Zion Baptist Church on Detroit's west side, on Joy Road near Ohio Street, after their 74-year-old deacon, Willie Lyte, was robbed there at gunpoint.

"He's just a working deacon, always doing something in the church," one of the parishioners tells Fox 2's Andrea Isom.

And Tuesday that's exactly what he was up to when he heard knock at the door. "He asked me if we had any food in the church. I said, 'Sure come on in,'" Lyte explains. Lyte then led the stranger to this food basket. The man looked through it and picked up a can of pasta, then asked for a spoon. Lyte took him into another room to grab the utensil and that's when the mood changed.  

"It was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Lyte recalls.

"He saw this big safe in there, and that's when he pulled his gun and said 'Open the safe!'" But Lyte did not know the combination, so the man then demanded the deacon empty his pockets and give him everything. "I had 40 dollars, I gave him that. He said 'Is that your truck parked outside?' I said, 'Yeah, it is.' He said 'Give me the keys.'" Lyte says the man was pointing a gun to him, threatening to kill him, so he handed over the keys and his cell phone.

Lyte continues, "He told me he was leaving, don't peek out the door or he'll blow my head off."

Parishioners share their frustration with Isom, saying the man took advantage of Lyte's kindness. Lyte says he has prayed for the man and asked God to forgive him, and that he will not let this keep him from helping others in the future.

"I'm here to serve the community, and I can't say who's hungry and who's not hungry, who's coming to rob me and who's not coming to rob me," Lyte says. "I just put it in the hands of the Lord, and I know he'll take care of me."

Lyte's vehicle that was stolen is a blue 2012 Ford F150. The plate number DV961R and it has disabled veteran plates. If you see it, or know anything, call Detroit Police.

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