A masked man broke into the Incarnation Catholic Church northwest of Tampa, Florida, last weekend and set fire to the interior before fleeing, the Tampa Bay Times reported Tuesday.
Surveillance video shows a shirtless, masked man throwing projectiles to break a glass window on the church door to gain access to the building last Friday night around 10:30pm. Wearing long pants, white sneakers, and a surgical mask, the man entered the church carrying a large bottle in his hands.
The man proceeded to pour clear liquid on three wooden pews and then set fire to them before running away as the flames began to rise. In all, the man was in the church for no more than three minutes.
According to Hillsborough County sheriff Chad Chronister, although fire crews arrived swiftly to extinguish the fire, the church sanctuary suffered significant damage.
The church’s pastor, Father Michael Cormier, said last Sunday that he had considered closing the church for the weekend and cancelling Sunday Masses in order to have work done to the damaged pews.
“But we thought: if we did that, evil would win,” the priest said.
“We wouldn’t have Mass for one weekend, and evil would win,” he said. “We have been struck down by this, but not destroyed. In the end, evil never wins.” Read more…