A Buffalo man suspected in several church burglaries in the city and the suburbs admitted today to burglarizing two Baptist churches, one in West Seneca and the other in South Buffalo.
John Bish, 45, of East Tupper Street, pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court to two counts of third-degree burglary, according to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.
Bish admitted that on Nov. 29, 2011, he stole computer equipment from the pastor’s office and items from a missionary closet at Center Road Baptist Church in West Seneca. Then he gave town police a false name when officers questioned him about the burglary, said District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III.
Bish also admitted hiding in Cazenovia Baptist Church on North Legion Drive in South Buffalo during a service and then emerging to steal items from the church’s office, prosecutors said. He was discovered by a church volunteer.
The volunteer heard someone in the building two hours after Sunday services and the building had already been secured, Buffalo police said earlier this year. The volunteer found Bish hiding at the end of a darkened hallway and led him from the building. The man then inspected the area where Bish was hiding and discovered that three locked offices had been broken into and church keys taken.
Two days later, the church volunteer noticed Bish on South Park Avenue checking the doorknobs at South Park United Methodist Church.
When Bish spotted the volunteer, he started running. The volunteer called 911 as he chased Bish, relaying directions to the police through the dispatcher, police said.
At one point, before he was captured, Bish looked back at the pursuing volunteer and threatened to shoot him, police said.
Bish did not give police an explanation as to why he targeted churches.
Bish faces up to 14 years in prison when sentenced March 6 as a second felony offender by Justice Christopher J. Burns.