Howard Dotson JrEAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (KMOX) – East St. Louis Police have taken two men in for questioning in connection with the hold-up of church members.

They are the same two men that police earlier called persons of interest.

In that robbery on Sunday night, three individuals with masks burst into the Ira Grove Baptist Church on Belmont and ordered church goers to the floor. They then robbed them of valuables.

Later Monday, East St. Louis said they were looking for 20-year-old Rufus Thomas and 17-year-old Howard Dotson Jr. Even though they they called them persons of interest, police put out a wanted poster that labeled them as armed and dangerous.

The men were taken into custody for questioning Monday evening.

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East St. Louis mayor Responds to Armed Church Robbery

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (KMOX) – East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks reacted strongly to Sunday night’s armed robbery during an evening church service.

Three armed men wearing masks burst into the service at the Ira Grove Free Will Baptist Church and ordered parishioners to start handing over their valuables. “Unfortunately, they just have no real code of ethics to say ‘you can’t rob a church,'” Parks said in an interview Monday morning.

Mayor Parks says now that crime has risen – or sunk – to this level, church service ushers will need to double as security guards, and even that might not be enough.

“I think people are going to have to consider hiring security to watch who is coming in to the facility and making sure people are not coming in with bad intentions,” he said.

East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Floore says nobody was hurt during the robbery and that the gunmen got away with money and other items. He says investigators are working to determine exactly what was taken from the churchgoers and no suspects have been identified.


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