1. News

Pastor holds church burglary suspect at gunpoint until Tampa police arrive

Pastor Brant Adams, 40, held a burglary suspect at gunpoint in the Seminole Heights Baptist Church at 801 E Hillsborough Ave. early Thursday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Jul. 11

TAMPA — The security alarm at Seminole Heights Baptist Church started ringing around 12:40 a.m. Thursday.

Alerted at his home nearby, Pastor Brant Adams, 40, rolled out of bed, grabbed his handgun and jumped into his pickup truck.

Minutes later, Adams and a deacon, Jack Young, crept into the church at 801 E Hillsborough Ave. The lights were on inside.

Adams spotted a man he didn't know going through a desk in one of the church offices.

The man noticed him and started to move forward, so Adams drew his gun and screamed at him to get on the ground. The man quickly complied. The pastor approached and stood a few feet away.

"I said, 'Dude, what are you doing?'" Adams told the Tampa Bay Times.

Young called Tampa police and Adams held the suspect at gunpoint until officers arrived just after 1 a.m.

"He wasn't looking for a fight, which I thank the Lord for," Adams said.

Police later identified the man as Miguel Otero-Rivera, 49, of Tampa. He was arrested and charged with burglary of an unoccupied structure, grand theft, possession of burglary tools, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked at the Orient Road Jail and was being held on $8,500 bail Thursday.

Otero-Rivera broke into the church by smashing a window with a brick, Adams said, then he kicked down several doors inside. He cut his back climbing in so blood was spattered through the building. He received medical treatment.

Repairs to the damage could cost the church thousands of dollars, Adams said.

He believes Otero-Rivera was looking for cash. Police said he tried to snatch a church laptop.

When Adams spotted him, Otero-Rivera was rooting through the office of Mission Tampa — a local food pantry run out the Seminole Heights Baptist Church office, Adams said.

As he was led out of the building, Otero-Rivera told Young, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Adams said.

"I'm just glad everyone's all right," said Adams, who has worked at the church for seven years. "Hope the gentleman gets the help that he needs."

The pastor has been around guns his whole life, he said. He bought the handgun he used Thursday about two years ago, for protection. He's a regular at the shooting range.

Still, Thursday's break-in shook him up, he said. Guns can change lives in an instant.

"You never want to pull a gun on someone," Adams said. "I never thought I'd pull a gun on someone."

Contact Sam Ogozalek at or (813) 226-3430. Follow @SamOgozalek.


  1. Eboni Wiley, left, testifies at the trial of her ex-boyfriend Granville Ritchie who is accused of raping and killing 9-year-old Felecia Williams in 2014. Wiley led the girl to Ritchie, according to the state. Hillsborough Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Johnson, right, questions Wiley in a Hillsborough County Courtroom.Octavi OCTAVIO JONES  |  Octavio Jones
    Eboni Wiley was a friend of Felecia Williams’ family. She told jurors how she brought the girl to the man standing trial for raping and killing the 9-year-old.
  2. Students and community activists marched in Tampa last year after the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The attack killed 17 people and gave rise to Florida’s school guardian law, which this year was changed to allow classroom teachers to be armed. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the measure into law. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
    Damien Kelly, the director of the Office of Safe Schools, told lawmakers that 11 districts have said they would like the option to arm instructional staff, but it wasn’t clear if all 11 had...
  3. This Jan. 31, 2017 photo shows the entrance to SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Gustavo “Gus” Antorcha cited a “difference of approach.”
  4. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. TMCCARTY  |  times staff
    The 15-year-old student was arrested Monday after shouting the threat out loud, according to St. Petersburg police.
  5. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, a Republican, has asked for a City Council vote on a resolution asking congress for gun control measures. DOUGLAS CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    However, the Republican’s symbolic resolution will almost certainly fail.
  6. A homeless Vietnam War veteran in Clearwater answers questions for a Pinellas County homeless survey. A shortage of affordable housing is considered a major cause of homelessness among vets in the Tampa Bay area. [Times files]
    Local agency leaders called on members of Congress to increase national affordable housing options as a solution to veteran homelessness
  7. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. TMCCARTY  |  times staff
    The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said it is obtaining a search warrant to start looking for evidence inside the house.
  8. Josh Hensley was known for dressing as Jack Sparrow. Facebook
    Joshua Hensley, 43, was found dead Monday morning. He went missing after setting out on a paddle board Saturday.
  9. 5 hours ago• Pinellas
    Ele Fox, Kiwanis Club of Dunedin member, and Joe Mackin, president of the Dunedin Cares Food Pantry are pictured in front of the case of meals they received to be distributed to families in need in the Dunedin area. Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Bessette. Stephanie Bessette
    Local Kiwanis clubs supply food in service project
  10. Volunteers work to refurbish a home as part of the Fuller Center’s Greater Blessings Program in Pasco County in August. Fuller Center for Housing Nature Coast
    Comedy show and dinner will help raise money for ministry working in Hernando, Pasco and Citrus counties and beyond.