CNA Staff, Jul 11, 2020 / 18:14 pm America/Denver (CNA).
A Florida man has been arrested after he reportedly admitted to crashing a minivan into a Catholic Church and then setting it on fire.
Stephen Anthony Shields, 24, of Dunnellon, Florida has been charged with attempted murder, arson, burglary, and evading arrest, after he was apprehended by police July 11.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office reported Saturday morning that deputies were called at about 7:30 am to Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Ocala, which was set aflame while parishioners inside prepared for morning Mass.
According to a Saturday evening statement from the sheriff's office, Shields poured gasoline in the church’s foyer and ignited it, after crashing his minivan through the parish's front door. Shields then drove away in the minivan, leading officers on a short chase before he was stopped.
According to local media, Shields told police he has been diagnosed with schizophrenia but is not currently taking prescribed medication. He said that he awoke on Saturday morning with a “mission,” and that he purchased the gas at a nearby gas station, according to Ocala-News.
Shields also quoted scripture, especially the Book of Revelation, to officers, and telling them his objections to the Catholic Church, Ocala-News reported. He reportedly told officers that he understood the consequences of his action, nevertheless saying the arson was “awesome” and referring to himself as “king.”