Police say an elderly Lowcountry pastor was thrown to the ground in an apparent robbery attempt that happened right in front of his church. It was just minutes before Sunday School got underway. A suspect is in custody tonight.
Sandy Wilson, Jr. is the pastor at St. Mary’s Holiness Church. He explains, “That time on Sunday morning I didn’t expect that at all.”
The 75-year-old Pastor Wilson and his wife were preparing for a morning of worship, but he says that he learned there was a stranger in the parking lot with car trouble. Pastor Wilson went out to try and help. “Caught myself trying to help him, I try to help a lot of people but this one was the worst one,” said Pastor Wilson.
Minutes later, Wilson says the suspect’s true intentions became clear as he grabbed for the pastor’s wallet. In the struggle, Wilson says the man threw him to the ground. A sight that shocked his wife of 48 years. “When I saw my husband on the ground on his back and I know his physical condition he couldn’t help himself that man could have easily hurt him,” said Mrs. Wilson.
Church members rushed to the pastor’s aid. The suspect ran away from the scene and was caught a little later by police.
Police charged the suspect, Hector Gibbs, Jr., with strong arm robbery. We took a look at Gibbs’ previous arrests. He has a long list of priors including drugs, DUI’s and domestic violence. Mrs. Wilson says she is grateful that her husband got away with a few bruises.
“I’m blessed, I feel blessed that he’s alive because all of the other tragic situations that we have heard we could have been planning his funeral,” said Mrs. Wilson. She warns other churches, especially in the area, to remain vigilant. “To the other churches, make sure you tell them that you have to be watchful now. Things are not like they used to be,” said Mrs. Wilson.
Gibbs was given a $150,000 surety bond at his court appearance Monday night. The bond conditions include no contact with the victim’s family, not allowed on the church property and he cannot possess a firearm. Both Pastor Wilson and his wife spoke at bond court . Mrs. Wilson said to Gibbs, “I don’t hate you it’s not too late, we forgive you but you have to change your ways.” Gibbs was visibly upset at the beginning and end of the appearance.