A Staten Island church was firebombed with two Molotov cocktails yesterday morning, making it the second apparent attack on a place of worship in four days. The church's minister, however, was able to find a bright side, "We're glad they didn't play quarterback for the Jets."
According to the police, the incident happened at 2 a.m. at 117 Wright Street, when someone set the exterior wall of the First Central Baptist Church and its awning on fire with a Molotov cocktail.
A surveillance system near Van Duzer Street and Beach Street captured footage of the suspect, who is described as last wearing a dark colored hooded jacket and dark colored pants.
WABC 7 reports, "The target seems to have been an office window, but the assailant missed. One of bottles wound up on the front lawn, the other bounced against a small awning on the side of the building. The resulting fire caught the eye of a passing ambulance crew, who called for help before it could spread."
Minister Dale Smith said, "God's grace the damage was minimal and we're blessed no one got hurt."
On Sunday, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into another Staten Island church, St. Paul’s Memorial Episcopal Church on Saint Paul’s Avenue. It landed on a concrete floor, which Rev. Frederick Scraplau said was lucky, "If it had landed on the pews we would have ended up with a massive fire. We don't have A/C so we leave the windows open to cool off at night."
Smith said, "Police believe there's a connection. That might be possibly what's going on, that people are targeting churches. That's very unfortunate, but we still pray for them and we're faithful."
The First Central Baptist Church's Facebook page says the incident "may have been a hate crime."
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 at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.