HARTFORD -- A well-known pastor of a Hartford church is recovering in the hospital after being knocked unconscious on New Park Avenue in Hartford Saturday afternoon while attempting to conduct a transaction that began on Craigslist.
Luis Borges, 54, is the lead pastor of the First Assembly of God Church, a Pentecostal Portuguese-speaking church. He sustained a head injury and was taken to Hartford Hospital, where he remained Sunday evening.
"He doesn't remember much. He's in a lot of pain," said Keila Alexandre, Borges' daughter.
Family members of Borges say he answered a Craigslist ad to purchase a $400 iPhone as a birthday present for his son, Peter Borges, who turned 15 on Sunday.
"He just wanted to get something nice for me, something I've been asking for a while," Peter said.
Police say Borges met the suspects outside church on New Park Avenue, in a public place on the sidewalk, to make the exchange around 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The pastor, along with his son and 20-year-daughter, were attending a baby shower at the church at the time.
While the pastor ran home to get the money, his son Peter waited with the men for about 20 minutes. Borges said he had no reason to fear anything would go wrong.
"We were just hanging out, talking about the phone," said Borges.
The pastor returned to the church, and as the parties exchanged the items, police say a man in a grey sweatshirt took the money and iPhone, and a second man in a black sweatshirt ran up and punched Borges in the head, knocking him to the ground. Both ran off with the money and the phone and ran into a Chrysler Sebring, according to Hartford Police Deputy Chief Brian Foley.
"He hit his head really hard and he was knocked out, and then I started screaming," said Keila Alexandre.
Borges' children said the pastor had the foresight to take a photo just before the assault took place.
"He said, 'this is the receipt for buying the phone.' I don't think they were paying attention to him, and you just hear the camera click, and then he just smacks him, and falls to the ground," said Peter.
Hartford Police have identified this suspect in one of those photos.
A second suspect is described as a skinny black male, between 140 and 160 pounds, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black sneakers and black sweatpants.
On Monday, Keila had good news to report about her father. "He's doing a lot better," she said. "He's actually going home today, so that is great news."
The Hartford Police Department allows people a "safe point for social media transactions," including Craigslist, Foley said. Hartford is one of the only police departments to offer this service. Essentially, the Hartford Public Service parking lot on High Street is open for people to make legal social media transactions.
This change came after 39-year-old father Felix Dejesus was murdered trying to sell two T-Mobile tablets in Hartford in 2013.
"It was a no-brainer for us, it is a way for us to open up to our public and also a way to prevent crime," Foley said. "These are risky transactions to begin with, they are dangerous and open to fraud," Foley added. "My advice would be to do them here."
Police say no suspects are in custody yet but their investigation into the crime against Pastor Borges is progressing quickly.