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Shirtless, masked arsonist sets fire at Incarnation church in Town 'N Country

The arsonist poured liquid onto three wooden pews and set them on fire. He left three minutes later, apparently without taking anything
Surveillance video shows pews burning Friday night after an arsonist set fire inside Incarnation Catholic Church in Town 'N Country.
Surveillance video shows pews burning Friday night after an arsonist set fire inside Incarnation Catholic Church in Town 'N Country. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Sep. 22, 2020
Updated Sep. 24, 2020

TOWN 'N COUNTRY — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a man who broke into Incarnation Catholic Church in Town 'N Country and lit several pews on fire.

Deputies released surveillance video in hopes someone might recognize the suspect. The man appears to be wearing long pants, white sneakers and a surgical mask, but no shirt.

The break-in at the church, off West Hillsborough Avenue at 5124 Gateway Dr., occurred at 10:36 p.m. Friday, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

The man hurled items to break a glass pane on the west doors of the church and appeared to have a large bottle in his hands when he entered.

Video surveillance shows him pouring liquid onto three wooden pews, setting them fire and running away as flames quickly erupt. He was in the church no more than three minutes and left through the church’s east entrance, apparently without taking anything.

A man pours liquid across the pews before setting fire to them Friday night at Incarnation Catholic Church in Town 'N Country.
A man pours liquid across the pews before setting fire to them Friday night at Incarnation Catholic Church in Town 'N Country. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was helping in the investigation.

The flames caused significant damage to the church sanctuary, Sheriff Chad Chronister said.

On Thursday, the sheriff’s office released additional video from a store that they believe shows their suspect. The video shows the man has a brace on his right hand.

Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at (813) 247-8118.