ST. LOUIS (BP) – A 13-year-old suspect is being held in custody by St. Louis police in connection to a carjacking that took place Friday, Jan. 27, involving Pastor Mike Coleman of Carondelet Baptist Church.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said it was the boy’s mother who turned him in after questioning him about the events. Investigators are still working to locate the second suspect in the case.
Media reports say a court hearing was held Wednesday, Feb. 1, for the suspect accused of pointing a gun at Coleman then stealing his vehicle from the church parking lot. Another hearing is schedule for Feb. 14.
Coleman had just returned to the church that Friday night after picking up a pizza for a church trustee when a gun was pointed at him.
Church security camera footage shows two people approaching Coleman in his car. Coleman said the two young men, whom he thought then couldn’t have been older than 13 or 14, demanded he give them his phone, wallet and keys.
He believes the two had never driven a car before, because they demanded Coleman remove an anti-left device from the steering wheel and help them get the engine started.
After driving away, the two promptly drove into two other cars in the parking lot just feet away before abandoning the stolen vehicle on foot.
Coleman told Baptist Press although he will be pressing charges, he still desires redemption and restoration for the two perpetrators.
Despite the initially traumatizing situation, Coleman preached to his congregation the next Sunday about loving your enemies.
“The hardest part for me was realizing that when these events take place, it’s very hard to keep your focus as a pastor and a believer because anger and fear just overwhelms you,” Coleman said.
“Those are tools of the devil he loves to use against God’s people. Nothing has changed. My mission is still the same and our focus is still the same in sharing the Gospel and reaching out even to someone who has committed a crime against me. I believe if there is an opportunity, I should take advantage of it.”
Although instructed by police to refrain from interacting with the suspect or his family during the on-going investigation, Coleman wants to use this event as an opportunity to double down on reaching a troubled community.
Carondelet Baptist wants to be a light in a city Coleman said “is in disarray and has been for a while.”
According to KSDK News, there were 14 carjackings in the city in the month of January. Police have formed a task force specifically investigating carjackings by juveniles.
The crime in the city is making the Gospel need clear for Coleman and the church.
“Our congregation understands the harvest field that we live in is ripe and it’s going to be a hard road because you’re going to be dealing with some pretty desperate individuals,” Coleman said. “If a young man or a young woman doesn’t have a hope, goal or vision, then there is very seldom joy or peace. Christianity is based on a hope that real and everlasting.
“The big picture is how can we present the Gospel and be effective. We’re not getting these youth in our doors, so the church has to go outside its doors. We want to get more into the game to reach these folks.
“It has reinforced this and we want to double down. If we look like we’re giving up or quitting then you’re not taken seriously. This church has been here for 158 years and until the Lord comes back, we’re just going to keep pushing forward.”