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THOUSAND OAKS : 2 Pastors Robbed at Gunpoint in Field

East Ventura County Focus

March 31, 1994|MACK REED

An evangelical pastor who was robbed at gunpoint in a Thousand Oaks field Tuesday night said he and a fellow pastor prayed to God and preached to his assailant--but to no avail.

The gunman and two accomplices made off with the ministers' wallets, car phone and car keys, sheriff's detectives said.

Ventura County sheriff's deputies are looking for three men in their 20s who robbed the two ministers and then vanished, according to a police report by Detective Ernie Montagna.

Larry Bingman, a co-pastor at the Living Word Christian Fellowship Evangelical Church in Newbury Park, said the men did not harm him or fellow pastor Marco Molina, who was visiting from Mazatlan, Mexico.

But neither did the assailants heed Bingman's attempts to preach the Gospel.

Bingman, 53, said he and Molina, 24, were standing and praying in a field at the end of Sunset Hills Boulevard that overlooks most of Thousand Oaks when three men came up behind them about 9:50 p.m.

"The leader of the group . . . pulled out a gun, and the other guys frisked us and pulled out our billfolds," Bingman said.

"My life's not worth a stupid billfold or a credit card, so I began to preach the Gospel to him," Bingman recalled. "I said, 'God will change you.' He said, 'A man's got to do what a man's got to do, I've got three kids to support.' Well, I didn't believe that."

The three took the cellular phone and the car keys and pointed the gun at Bingman and Molina, forcing them to walk toward Thousand Oaks, Bingman said.

By the time the men turned back, the robbers were gone, he said. The ministers walked home.

"I'm minus the money and the credit cards and keys and dumbfounded as to how this could happen in Thousand Oaks," Bingman said.

"But I'm not naive. I know these things happen."

The robbery is under investigation.

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