A drunk man slammed his head on the ground after he was booted from a Harlem church, leaving him near death in an intensive care unit, police said. The drama kicked off Sunday when 42 year old John Strother stumbled into a gospel performance at The Tabernacle of Deliverance For All People. As a soloist gave a rousing performance of “Anointed Man,” Strother stepped onto the stage and gave the singer a drunken embrace, the Rev. Joseph Bright said.
“He jumped onto the pulpit and embraced him,” said Bright, 79. “It was out of order — but not unheard of. We thought he was getting the spirit.” But it quickly dawned on Deacon James Patterson, 49, that Strother wasn’t feeling spiritual. After bothering a member of the congregation, Strother got on stage and wrapped his arms around the soloist again.
“First he hugged the singer. Then he hugged the missionary. The third time I told him that was out of order!” Patterson said from his South Bronx apartment. Bright, who presides over the congregation of around 150 at the nondenominational church, described the scene as “unseemly.”
Two other men grabbed Strother and tried to escort him out of the storefront church on Frederick Douglass Blvd. just north of 153rd St., with Patterson helping out. “I don’t mean any harm,” Patterson recalled Strother saying as he was being forced to leave. “I know, but you can’t come around hugging people!” Patterson shot back. WOW!
“I know where I am! I’m in God’s house!” Strother belted out. “F— you and f— you!” A scuffle ensued, and one of the men shoved Strother out the door, Patterson said. A police source said that Strother was punched. Strother, who hails from Cleveland, hit the pavement head-first and was immediately knocked out.
Strother was in the intensive care unit at Harlem Hospital on Monday — unconscious and barely alive. He has a long rap sheet in Ohio dating back to 1989, including convictions for robbery, kidnapping and felonious assault. The most recent address cops had for him was a mental health facility in Cleveland.
“I hope the fellow is okay,” Patterson said. “I’m praying for him.”