The Detective: A violent dispute at a church

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of a pastor's robes


Here are some recent anomalies in Los Angeles Police Department data found by the Detective, our data-crawling robot, and aggregated by the robot’s human assistant, Taylor Mills. This period covers Sept. 13-19, 2021. 


🔎 A Sunday service at a Florence church somehow became a complicated family argument that required the involvement of law enforcement. On Sept. 19, Los Angeles Police Department officers responded to an altercation between an individual identified as a pastor and his 58-year-old son. Details of what led to the dispute are slim, but the pastor allegedly swung a weapon at the victim. 


This is the second time in 2021 that a pastor or priest has been involved in an aggravated assault case. According to the LAPD’s publicly accessible data, this is not the first occasion that a figure at this church was involved in a criminal incident. In 2012, a pastor was identified in an aggravated assault involving two young men. It is unclear if the same man was involved in both the current encounter and the one nine years ago. 


🔎 Most people are sleeping in the middle of the night. But in the dark hours of Sept. 17, a Downtown store that was open was the site of a disturbing encounter. At 4:45 a.m., an 18-year-old employee was forced inside the business by a robber who was brandishing a handgun. The assailant proceeded to tie up the youth, then ransacked the store. Unspecified personal items were taken from the employee.


There have been 540 robberies in Downtown this year alone, but before this none had involved forcing a victim inside.


🔎 Threats can happen anywhere, but targeting someone while they run errands seems unusual. Yet that is what happened to a 30-year-old woman on Sept. 15. She entered a bank in the Westside community of Sawtelle and was confronted by an aggressor who demanded unspecified items. The thief threatened to hurt the woman if she did not comply.


Los Angeles banks see numerous instances of document forgery and identity theft, but very rarely are people actually targeted while entering the financial institution. Only 31 times in the last decade has the LAPD reported someone being the victim of a crime while arriving at a bank.


🔎 People may want to double check if their divorce papers, or the documents involving someone they are marrying, went through before walking down the aisle with a new partner. On Sept. 16, the LAPD reported an individual attempted to tie the knot in North Hollywood while still being legally married to someone else. Few details were provided.


Bigamy is against California law, and individuals can end up facing a criminal charge. Since 2010, only 14 cases have been reported by the LAPD.


How we did it: At Crosstown, we examine publicly available crime data from multiple Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies. We have a robot on the team called the Detective that scans the LAPD publicly available data for anomalies. LAPD officers tag most crime reports in their system with MO codes, for “modus operandi,” Latin for operating method or style. The MO codes are shorthand for describing what happened in a crime incident. 


Questions about our data? Write to us at