Maryland Police Investigate Fires and Vandalism at Multiple Houses of Worship

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Currents News Staff

The arson triggered the fire detection system at St. Jane Frances de Chantal Catholic Church in Maryland around 1:55 a.m. Sunday.

“People are coming in today shocked,” said Patricia Zapor from the Archdiocese of Washington. “There were some small attempts to burn some of the pews. Some books were shredded, and the stations of the cross were removed from the wall.”

That’s when Montgomery County Fire and Rescue arrived and put the fire out. This morning, the cleanup began.

“Of course, they are concerned that they were allegedly targeted,” said Peter Piringer from the fire and rescue team.

Although the investigation is ongoing, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue said there are similarities between the arson and vandalism at St. Jane Frances de Chantal Catholic Church and the arson and vandalism that happened just a few minutes down the road at North Bethesda United Methodist Church.

“In both cases, there were some associated vandalism with that,” said Piringer. “Again, there are similarities: Not too far apart. Relatively same time of night occurring. And both being churches.”

The arson at the Methodist church happened Saturday at 2:35 a.m.

“Again this was an arson,” said Piringer. “Intentionally set fires.”

That’s not all – a third church was vandalized on the same road. Investigators found headstones broken and wood pieces shattered at Wildwood Baptist Church.

Sunday Mass ended with a different prayer.

“And encourage people to pray for whoever would do something like this,” said Zapor. “That their hearts be healed.”