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Church pastor tackles robber during sermon, Melbourne police say

Man tried to rob parishioners with BB gun, authorities say

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MELBOURNE, Fla. – Melbourne police arrested a man who they say tried to rob churchgoers during a sermon, but was tackled by the church pastor.

John Grace was arrested and charged with armed robbery and 20 additional charges in the Sunday morning incident at The Door Christian Fellowship Church on East Melbourne Avenue.

Pastor Les Snodgrass tells Local 6 Grace had attended his church services before but was hardly a regular.

During his sermon on "The Value of Life," he said Grace stood up and showed a gun.

"He pulled a gun from his bag and put up to my mother's head," Snodgrass said.
He said Grace then told everyone to get down on the ground and give him their money.

The entire incident was captured on the church's audio system, which was recording.
"I tried to divert his attention away from my mother," Snodgrass said. "I kept calling out to him, 'Johnny, Johnny, what are you doing?'"

Snodgrass said he slowly approached Grace and began to talk to him.

He said he got close enough to make a split-second decision.

"I just pushed against the wall with all my might," he said. "I had him by the shoulders, and as soon as I did that, my son leapt from the platform into the air and pounced on him. He punched him twice in the head."

Snodgrass said his wife held a stun gun to Grace until Melbourne police officers arrived and arrested him.

Grace appeared in court from jail Monday facing 21 charges.

A judge denied bond on the most serious robbery charges, but assessed a $70,000 bond the remainder of the charges.

"We prayed after the whole thing was over. I gathered my family at the church, and we all held hands and prayed and forgave him on the spot. Absolutely," Snodgrass said. "But (Grace) will face justice and (he) should."

Melbourne police arrested a man who they say tried to rob churchgoers during a sermon, but was tackled by the church pastor.


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