Driver, 24, ‘slams minivan into church and sets foyer on FIRE’ as parishioners prepare for mass – The Sun

A DRIVER 24, allegedly slammed his minivan into a church and set the foyer on FIRE as parishioners prepared for mass on Saturday, police said.

Steven Anthony Shields, 24, was arrested and faces a slew of charges after cops said he drove through the Florida house of worship.

Police responded to Queen of Peace Catholic Church after they got reports that someone had set a fire while parishioners were inside preparing for mass, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Cops said upon arriving on scene, they discovered Shields "had intentionally crashed a vehicle through the front doors of the church, exited the vehicle and poured gasoline out into the foyer area and then lit it on fire."

Photos shared by police showed the inside of the church blackened and scorched.

Shields then allegedly drove away in the vehicle, police said.

Deputy Josue Gonzalez noticed the car, chased it, and then performed what's called a "PIT" – or Precision Immobilization Technique – to halt the car, police said.

The technique involves a cop coming up to a moving vehicle diagonally, and using a small impact to push the suspect's rear bumper, according to Pursuit Response.

This will make it so the driver loses control of the vehicle and the pursuit is ended.

After performing the maneuver, Shields was arrested, police said.

A picture shared by police showed the minivan in a grassy area with a police patrol car touching the side of the vehicle.

Shields now faces several charges – including attempted second-degree murder, arson to a structure, burglary of an occupied structure, assault while armed, and fleeing, among others.

At least two of the charges are life felonies, police said.

Shields is held in Marion County Jail without bond.

Sheriff Billy Woods said he and other officers "will always ensure our citizens can worship in peace."

"I’m proud of my deputies for capturing this man so quickly and we appreciate the assistance from all of the state and federal agencies that worked alongside of us during this investigation," Woods said in a statement.

Source: Read Full Article