After a second fire struck another Staten Island church in just a matter of days — and just a few blocks away — the NYPD is now investigating the incidents as hate crimes and believes they are connected.
The recent incident occurred on Thursday at about 2 a.m. when the suspect — last seen wearing a dark colored hooded jacket and dark colored pants — threw a Molotov cocktail at the First Central Baptist Church, located at 117 Wright St., police said.
The suspect — who was caught on surveillance video near Van Duzer Street and Beach Street -- managed to set fire to the exterior wall of the church and its awning, cops said.
According to NBC4 New York, Minister Dale Smith at the church believes the suspect intended to through the flaming bottle through a side window, ultimately setting the church on fire.
This act of arson comes just days after another Molotov cocktail was thrown through an open window at St. Paul’s Memorial Episcopal Church, located just blocks away.
The incident occurred sometime between noon Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday, ABC7 New York reported, when the church was closed and the fire cause only minor damage to the floor.
City Comptroller Scott Stringers voiced his anger towards the incidents and said he has “full faith the perpetrators will be brought to justice.” He added that he urges anyone that has information to contact the NYPD.
“Violence in any form, and especially against any place of worship, is an affront to us all,” Stringer said. “While I am relieved that no one was harmed in the attacks over the past few days, these incidents are a stark reminder that even in our City, we are never immune from hate.”
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).
The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.