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Marion County man drives into church, lights fire with people inside, deputies say

A potential suspect is in custody

Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office
Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office

MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A driver plowed into a Florida church and then set it on fire as parishioners prepared for mass Saturday, but no one was hurt, authorities said.

Deputies have taken into custody 24-year-old Steven Anthony Shields after he allegedly crashed a minivan through the front doors of Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Ocala at about 7:30 a.m. as those inside prepared for morning services, deputies say.

Shields allegedly got out and threw some kind of incendiary device, causing a fire that resulted in extensive damage to the building.

Steven Anthony Shields
Steven Anthony Shields (Marion County Sheriff's Office)

Shields drove off but was stopped by deputies nearby.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is helping with the investigation.

The Diocese of Orlando released a statement Saturday following the incident:

Stay with News 6 for updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this story


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