PUBLIC SAFETY: A woman who told a staffer at a Fair Lawn Baptist church that she needed money to fix a flat fire after her car had broken down on the way from Delaware to get her son a blood transfusion was in for a surprise:
The pastor at Van Riper-Ellis Church is borough Detective David Boone.
Now police are warning local houses of worship to be wary.
“It’s important to let our churches and temples know about this right away, because these people go from place to place,” Boone told CLIFFVIEW PILOT this morning.
Sgt. Brian Metzler asked that the warning be shared within congregations and among them.
“If a situation arises that you feel that a scam or other event is occurring at your congregation, please contact your local police department for assistance,” Metzler said.
The woman – about 5 feet tall, with one side of her head shaved and a long, dirty-blonde hair pulled into a ponytail on the other – went to Van Riper-Ellis on Tuesday, the sergeant said.
Outside, staffer noticed a man waiting. They described him as about 5-foot-8, with a black beard nearly three inches long.
The woman claimed she’d gotten the flat about two miles away and had no money for repairs, Metzler said.
When she was informed about Boone, she “became nervous and [said] that she needed to speak to her cousin waiting outside,” he said.
Both then took off.
For Boone, the position is a true calling: The lawn outside Van Riper-Ellis is where his friend and colleague, Officer Mary Ann Collura, was shot and killed by a mad gunman the night of April 17, 2003.
Boone had been asked in November 2011 to fill in one Sunday because the interim pastor was away.
“I preached on Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls in Jerusalem…. a miracle story of the rebuilding of the Holy City in a very short time,” he told CLIFFVIEW PILOT two years ago. “After the service several members of the congregation asked me if I would be interested in the possibility of becoming the pastor, as the pastor there was retiring.”
Boone, a former PBA Local #67 president and U.S. Army Special Ops chaplain who served in Kuwait, was chosen from more than 100 potential candidates.
A married father of two, Boone is a third-generation American Baptist pastor, following his grandfather, two uncles and father into the ministry. His dad, the Rev. Donald A. Boone, served churches in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio and New Jersey. He died in 1983, completing his service in Camden.
The younger Boone was 11 when he wrote his first sermon and 13 when he preached for the very first time at the Broadway Baptist Church of Paterson.
He attended college in West Virginia and in 1984 began preaching and serving as pastor at churches up and down the Ohio River Valley. While a full-time pastor of the suburban Christ Memorial Baptist Church in Dover, Delaware, he attended Eastern Seminary in Philadelphia.
Boone joined the Army in the fall of 1989 and was stationed with the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (airborne) in Savannah, Georgia, for four years. He participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and won eight medals for his service.
Pastoring in the South followed, before Boone joined the Fair Lawn force in 1994. He also became pastor of First Baptist Community Church in Parsippany, where he remained for a dozen years. He returned to Preakness in 2005 and remained as co-pastor until his “semi-retirement” in December 2010.
Then came the call at Van Riper-Ellis.
In the photo at the top of this story, Boone unites attendees at the 30th annual NJ Law Enforcement Memorial service in Ocean Grove this past May, telling the survivors of those who’ve sacrificed their lives to keep us safe “you are not alone.”
“My passion is preaching, reaching and helping others in many ways, many places, and wherever the Lord leads me,” Boone told CLIFFVIEW PILOT in 2012. “I am overwhelmed by this opportunity to serve in this wonderful church, which holds so many memories for me from childhood and as an officer.”