Pastor accused of punching donor, 70, at food distribution event in Opa-locka

Suspect identifies himself as pastor of Mount Tabor Ministries

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. – A pastor was arrested Tuesday in Opa-locka for punching a 70-year-old man who was trying to deliver food to those in need, authorities said.

The victim, Felipe Madrigal, spoke to Local 10 News reporter Jeff Weinsier Thursday as he was going into the emergency room to get his neck checked out.

He told Weinsier he was still having a lot of pain in his neck and head.

The incident was reported outside a church in the area of Lincoln Avenue and Johnson Street.

According to an arrest report, the victim, who is the president of the Rotary Club of Doral, told police he had gone to the area to deliver 12 pallets of food to people when Burnice Lee S. Mikell, 64, approached him and asked what he was doing there.

Burnice Lee S. Mikell, 64, is accused of punching a 70-year-old man outside a church in Opa-locka. (Miami-Dade Corrections & Rehabilitation/WPLG)

According to his business card, Mikell is the pastor of Mount Tabor Ministries.

A woman, who identified herself as the church administrator for another church -- the Opa-locka Church of God -- said Mikell is not affiliated with her church, however, they allow him to use a building across from the church when he is feeding the community.

The victim said he told Mikell he was there to provide food to people, but Mikell got angry that the victim did not contact him first before arriving.

A 70-year-old man (pictured here in the yellow shirt) was punched in the face by a self-proclaimed pastor after he was simply trying to deliver food to those in need, authorities said. (WPLG)

The pastor apparently thought the food was going to be donated to his church and not handed out that day.

“When I said, ‘Why don’t you help us?’ At that moment, he hit me and (I) went backwards on the sidewalk and landed on the street ... my phone went flying. It is broken,” Madrigal said.

Police said Mikell punched the victim in the face, knocking him out.

According to the arrest report, Mikell told police he hit Madrigal because he feared for his life, but witnesses told officers Mikell struck the victim for no apparent reason.

Weinsier also spoke to Mikell on Thursday and he again stated that he was in fear of Madrigal.

“We do not do food distribution on Tuesday. We do food distribution on Thursday,” he said. “He was right close up on me. I thought he was gonna hit me. I thought he was gonna hit me. I was defending myself.”

Mikell admitted that he now believes Madrigal didn’t mean any harm, but he said he wasn’t sure at the time because Madrigal had never been there before.

“I guess he didn’t mean no harm, but I didn’t know and I hit him,” the pastor said. “It was self-defense because I thought I was defending myself.”

Madrigal isn’t buying that claim.

“I’m 70 years old, brother,” he said. “All I want to do is help people, and we were there to help people in need.”

Mikell held his weekly food distribution on Thursday as scheduled.

After being knocked out, Madrigal didn’t go to the hospital, but instead took his 12 pallets of food and headed to City Hall to hand it out there.

“It is very sad, Jeff,” he said. “We are there to help the most needy people and it’s so sad. That’s a pastor of a church (and he) acts the way he did.”

Mikell was taken into custody on a charge of aggravated battery on an elderly person, but he has since bonded out.

Records show he has a long long criminal record that dates back to 1976 that includes charges such as theft, battery and possession of cocaine.

He was recently charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, robbery and battery for an incident involving his wife.


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