Ex-Convict Who Targeted Churches Behind Bars in Nashville


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A man with a long history of crimes, many of which victimized people in churches, is back behind bars in Nashville.

In the latter case, church officials say Gilbert Ostring volunteered at an East Nashville church only to use the opportunity to search an employee’s coat, find his keys, then steal the Nissan. $9,000 Sentra and the wife’s credit cards.

According to an arrest affidavit from the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department, it happened on March 15.

That’s when 52-year-old ex-convict Gilbert Ostring went to the First Church of the Nazarene. He learned about volunteering.

“He came and had a lot of questions and conversations. So he worked all morning with our team and our facility manager,” Senior Pastor Kevin Ulmet said. “When they stopped for lunch, they invited him to lunch and he said, ‘No, I have other things to do’ and he found a way home.”

That’s when Ulmet said Ostring found the keys and took the 2016 Nissan.

According to Metro Police, on March 22, Ostring drove to Trevecca Nazarene University where he allegedly stole a backpack with keys belonging to a 2012 Honda Fit. He also stole that car, according to police.

Ulmet says his church works with the homeless and those less fortunate, and individuals like Ulmet make it a little harder to trust.

“We try to be the hands and feet of Jesus for people on a daily basis and we will continue to do that, but probably a little tighter and smarter,” Ulmet said.

Ulmet said Ostring used to apparently try to trick churches and nonprofits so he could go after them.

“We hope he finds help and rehabilitation to live decently and come out of the shadows and be real and authentic,” Ulmet said. “That’s our hope for him.”

In May 2018, Metro Police released video of a man they believe was Ostring shooting at a 70-year-old woman in the parking lot of a church in Lebanon Pike. When the elder got close enough, Ostring grabbed the woman’s purse and left. The woman fell, breaking her hand and injuring her face, according to a 2018 police report.

Subway police told News 2 Ostring was eventually arrested for that 2018 purse theft in 2020.

According to Tennessee Department of Corrections records, he served no time for the robbery, only six years probation.

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Ostring is currently being held in Metro Nashville Jail on $52,000 bond.


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