Police are searching for a man who broke into a Catholic church in Florida on Friday and tried to burn it down. The church’s pastor in a Sept. 20 video urged prayers for the man and thanked God that the church survived the attack.
Surveillance video shows a young man, shirtless and wearing a surgical mask and white gloves, breaking into the church and pouring a jug of clear liquid on several of the wooden pews before setting them alight. He fled as the flames erupted, apparently without stealing anything.
The incident happened around 10:36pm Sept. 18 at Incarnation Catholic Church in Town ‘n’ Country, Florida, immediately northwest of Tampa.
Fire crews responded swiftly to put out the fire, but the sanctuary sustained significant damage, including the loss of the front section of pews. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is leading a search for the suspect.
Pastor Michael Cormier said during his Sept. 20 Sunday homily that initially he considered closing down the church for the weekend to have work done to restore the pews, canceling the weekend’s Masses.
“But we thought: if we did that, evil would win,” Cormier said.
Watch the pastor’s response below.