Armed Crooks Rob & Shoot At Church Volunteers Working Fireworks Stand
By Erik Rosales
FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) — Right now the hunt is on for two young men who robbed and shot at people working in a south Fresno fireworks stand. It happened Wednesday afternoon, near the corner of Orange and Church, in southeast Fresno. The stand is run by volunteers from the West Fresno Victory Outreach Church. Volunteer Theresa Belasco never thought she'd be dodging bullets while working at a fireworks stand. But that's exactly what she did. Belasco says, "Some guys came up and acted like they wanted to purchase fireworks. Then the next thing you know we had a gun pulled on us. Scared little boys just gave them what they wanted." However, after the crooks took about $80.00 and the church pastor's cell phone that was not the end of it. The crooks fired off 4 shots with their gun. One hit the pastor's car, while another hit the fireworks stand. The other two bullets were fired toward a volunteer, but missed. The pastor says it was a moral defeat. Fresno West Victory Outreach Church Pastor Joel Rodacker says, "We are attempting to raise money for two Christian recovery homes. We help men and women get their lives clean from drugs and gangs. I'm actually a product of that recovery home. I've been clean for 13 years because of that." And he's not the only one. Jaime Lopez is currently in the recovery program. He says, "It's restoring my family. It's kind of touching because I do see God moving in my life." While detectives continue with their investigation, Victory Outreach church members have this message for the armed bandits. East Fresno Pastor Mike Contreras says, "I actually pray that they will get caught. So they can have a chance, an opportunity at Jesus Christ." Belasco says, "We take young men like them and young women like them as well and bring them into our homes and allow god to do his work in them. I forgive them, of course I do." Pastor Rodacker says he will reopen the fireworks stand on the corner of Orange Avenue and Church Street, because he wants the crooks to know evil will not win! However he is hiring security guards. The Fresno County Sheriff's Office is not releasing any more information on the case. However, anyone with a tip about the armed robbery is urged to call them at (559) 600-3111.
KMPH Fox 26 is the Central Valley's news leader, covering Fresno, California and the surrounding area, including Clovis, Madera, Hanford, Visalia, Biola, Kerman, Tranquillity, San Joaquin, Reedley, Coalinga, Avenal, Lemoore, Tulare, Selma, Caruthers, Tollhouse, Three Rivers, Porterville, and Merced.