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. Vice President Mike Pence reacts during an immigration and naturalization ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    Katie Waldman, a former University of Florida student senator, was accused of helping discard independent student newspapers with a front-page endorsement of a rival party’s candidate. | Analysis
  2. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. JAMAL THALJI  |  Tampa Bay Times
    John Clark used a shotgun to kill his mother and another man. Then he returned to the crime scene with a shotgun, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
  3. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  4. The main exhibit center at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa once stirred the imagination with dinosaurs and stars. Now, it's empty, but on the verge of rebirth as a movie studio.
    The County Commission has set aside $2 million for the project as the Film Commission studies the demand for it.
  5. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP
    Hunter Biden worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
  6. Reclaimed water rates are increasing 6 percent in St. Petersburg.
    Potable, waste and reclaimed water fees will all increase. So will garbage fees, though the stormwater fee will drop for some.
  7. Joshua Russell, 26, faces a charge of aggravated manslaughter, according to deputies. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
    A dose of kratom caused the caretaker to fall asleep for hours inside a hot minivan with the disabled man in the back seat, investigators said.
  8. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announces federal grants Friday that will equip at least 600 officers with body cameras. CHARLIE FRAGO  |  Charlie Frago
    Mayor Jane Castor announces a nearly $600,000 Department of Justice grant Friday.
  9. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri spoke Friday about a child protection investigator who was arrested on charges of falsifying reports. JOSH SOLOMON  |  Josh Solomon
    It’s the second time in two years a Pinellas child protection investigator has faced falsification charges.
  10. Stay with for the latest news and updates. Times
    The Challenger K-8 student didn’t have access to a gun, deputies said.