JPSO Col. John Fortunato describes what the priest reported to officers:
"A priest at St. Clement of Rome Parish Catholic Church on West Esplanade was sitting in the office at the Parish Center, when two unidentified black male suspects accosted him at gunpoint. One of the suspects was armed with a small handgun, and the other with a crowbar," Fortunato said.
Police say that the suspects forced the priest into the office where a safe was kept and ordered him to open it. After the priest was unable to open it, Fortunato says one of the suspects hit the priest "on the upper part of his body" with the crowbar.
Fortunato tells WWL First News that after striking the priest, the suspects fled, and the priest called 911.
Archdiocese officials say Father Peter Finney was not seriously injured in the attack, and Fortunato said Finney did not require medical attention.
The suspect with the gun is described as wearing a black and white bandana, between 5'2", and 5'8", weighing between 170-180 pounds. The suspect with the crowbar is described as between 6' and 6' 6' 4", weighing about 250 pounds, with a dark-colored bandana covering his face. They both were wearing black hoodies, according to Fortunato.
Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call the JPSO Criminal Robbery Division or Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.
The Archdiocese released a statement today about the robbery:
Important to note is that nothing was taken from the Parish Center and that Fr. Peter emerged unharmed. The robbers were intent on getting the collection money, a goal they ultimately failed to achieve. In no way does this put individuals in greater danger.
We believe St. Clement is a very safe campus and community. We are currently reviewing our procedures to make certain this is less of a possibility in the future.
Please keep those two men in prayer. While certainly regretable, this incident gives further indication of the importance of Catholic outreach into the community from the earliest stages of life.