Priest on Staten Island punched, mugged by 2 men who drive off in his car

PORT RICHMOND, Staten Island (WABC) -- A priest was punched outside his Staten Island church Thursday morning by two muggers who drove off in his car, and police are hoping surveillance video of the suspects will help lead to arrests.

Authorities say the 61-year-old priest was assaulted by the men as he parked outside St. Mary's of the Assumption on Castleton Avenue around 5 a.m. Thursday. The suspects probably didn't know their victim was a priest, an associated pastor was too shaken to speak to the media but determined enough to celebrate noon Mass despite his injuries.

"He's fine physically," head Pastor Fr. Mark Hallinan said. "But you know, it's a trauma at 5 o'clock in the morning to be woken up with a gun pointed at you and punched in the face. No one wants that, right?...He's been doing his work today, so I appreciate that. Staying on top of the game."

In the hazy video, a man in a white shirt moves towards the priest, right in front of the church. The priest suffered a black eye in the attack, and the suspects got away with with his wallet. Sources in the church say it had just $18 inside.

"His car was taken, with his keys," NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. "We recovered his car a few blocks away. We are going forward with the case now."

Parishioners inside the church during the noon Mass said the pastor noted he had a black eye, but left out the details of a frightening morning most would rather forget.

"It's very sad," parishioner Michael DelPriore said. "Our society's in bad shape, real bad shape. Nobody respects each other, nobody loves each other. It's a sad, sad commentary on where we've become as a people."

No arrests have been made.
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