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Pastor beaten while decorating church

December 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The pastor of a Highland church is in critical condition after he was beaten and robbed by two men while trying to decorate his church with Christmas lights. Now he's fighting for his life in a Loma Linda hospital.Pastor Dennis Warman is in critical condition. He suffered skull fractures, internal bleeding and is in a medically-induced coma.

WATCH: Wife of pastor describes how she chased the assailants away from her husband

Police say the beating was so bad, if they ever find the suspects, they say they will charge them with attempted murder.

"He was just sobbing, and [we were] helping him, and he had fallen to the ground," said Mendy Warman, the victim's wife. "And he couldn't move, and there was just blood everywhere."

Mendy and her daughter Megan were there Saturday night at the Church of the Valley in Highland when it happened. Pastor Warman was there to make last-minute preparations for his sermon in the morning.

"I saw the Christmas tree, and half of one of our Christmas trees in the church, the lights had gone out. And so, he turned and said, 'Oh I'll go ahead and get you a light bulb out of the shed,'" said Mendy.

The next thing she heard was a cry for help from her husband.

"I got the guitar and just started running towards them with it," said Mendy. "And as I ran toward them, one guy grabbed the other one and said, 'Let's get out of here, let's go.' And so they took off running. And I kind of chased for about 50 feet until I thought, "What am I doing? And so I turned around, and remember being thankful that I didn't see a weapon. I didn't see a gun. I was just very thankful that I didn't see... It could've been much worse than even that."

Family members and friends of Pastor Warman will take any good news they can get.

"By yesterday afternoon, the bleeding had stopped. And there's no brain damage," said Mendy. "And so we're rejoicing today in a God that loves us and cares about the details."

"We're asking for the public's assistance," said Jodi Miller, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. "This is an awful, heinous crime -- very, very sad that this pastor was approached."

As police search for suspects, there's been an outpouring of support. But people are asking how something like this could happen.

"That's a question even my daughter asked," said Mendy. "'Daddy was serving God. How can someone attack him?' Because he loves people so much. And so my heart's desire is that God will get a hold of people's lives and it will stop being about violence, and all the things that are going on that are prevalent. Because there's a man up there in a bed that loves the community and wants to see a difference. And loves his God and has a calling in his life."

Police say the motive was robbery. The suspects got away with the pastor's wallet. There isn't much of a description. The assailants are believed to be between 19- and 25-years-old. If you have any information, call (909) 425-9793.

The pastor's wife says no fund has been set up, but people can make donations to the church.


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