Florida man crashes into church, sets it on fire with parishioners inside, sheriff says


A Florida man was arrested Saturday after plowing his vehicle into a Catholic church and then setting the building on fire as parishioners were inside preparing for Mass, according to officials.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office said Steven Anthony Shields, 24, crashed his van through the front doors of Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Ocala around 7:30 a.m.  He got out, poured gasoline in the foyer area and set it on fire, authorities said.

Shields then drove off but was spotted by Deputy Josue Gonzalez, who stopped the vehicle by hitting it with his patrol car, the sheriff's office said.

Officials said parishioners were not injured. Marion County firefighters quickly doused the fire.

“Our freedom of worship granted in the Constitution is a freedom that we all hold dear," Sheriff Billy Woods said in a statement. "My deputies and I are sworn to protect that right and will always ensure our citizens can worship in peace. I’m proud of my deputies for capturing this ma... (Read more)

Submitted 27 days ago

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