A priest has been arrested for allegedly carrying out a string of armed robberies in Brazil.
Catholic clergyman Elizeu Moreira, 27, is accused of carrying out robberies at two supermarkets and a pharmacy within the span of an hour on Tuesday in Passo Fundo, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.
Security video from one of the supermarkets shows the moment a man points a fake gun at a cashier and forces her to hand over money from the register.
The footage shows the man placing an item on the counter and retrieving money from his wallet to pay, before suddenly pulling out the plastic pistol.
The frightened woman then opened the register and handed over all of the cash before the man picks up a shopping bag and walked out of the supermarket.
According to the Rio Grande do Sul Military Brigade, Father Moreira was apprehended later in the evening at a checkpoint while he was driving a vehicle that belonged to the Archdiocese of Passo Fondo.
Authorities seized $116 of the $249 the priest had allegedly stolen, as well as a fake gun.
Father Moreira was just a couple of days shy of marking his 18th month of ordination.
Police chief Diogo Ferreira said Moreira confessed to the Civil Police, and said that the robberies were sparked by madness.
‘We don’t know if he owed any debt,’ Ferreira said. ‘He was totally calm. It seemed he didn’t realize what he did and that he was in the world of the moon. The toy gun he used must not weigh 10 grams (0.35 ounces). It is plastic and hollow.’
Father Moreira appeared before a court judge Wednesday and was placed in pretrial detention.
Maura da Silva, who is representing the priest, said he was receiving a psychiatric assessment and that he had not taken his medication for three weeks, according to Brazilian online portal Gauchazh reported.
Father Moreira has been temporarily removed from his duties at Santa Terezinha Church.
Passo Fondo Archbishop Dom Weber said: ‘The most shocked of all is me, who accompanied the training of these young people.
‘He was newly ordained. A person who was doing well in his jobs and suddenly an act like this happens. It is shocking. It is sad. It is very painful.’