Published February 01, 2013
Two Missouri suspects have been charged in connection with the brazen gunpoint robbery of more than 50 worshippers at an East St. Louis church.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports that Howard Dotson, 17, and Rufus Thomas, 19, both of East St. Louis, were each charged Wednesday with a count of obstructing justice. St. Clair County State Attorney Brendan Kelly said bond for each was set at $50,000. A third teenager is also in custody for questioning.
The Greater St. Louis Major Case Squad is expected to present additional information that may lead to more charges, Kelly said.
Authorities said three gunmen stopped worship at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Ira Groves Freewill Baptist Church in East St. Louis and one held a gun to the minister's head as they ordered the congregation to the floor. Valuables such as wedding rings, cell phones and wallets were stolen from the 50 to 75 congregants at the service.
Worshippers returned to the church late Tuesday to provide details about the robbery to police. Anyone with additional information is asked to call the Greater St. Louis Major Case Squad at (618) 825-5200.
Attempts to reach church officials on Friday were not immediately successful.