Miami Beach

Man arrested after trying to set American flag on fire at St. Patrick’s church, cops say

Anthony Henstchel
Anthony Henstchel Miami-Dade Corrections

During the Wednesday morning Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Miami Beach, Anthony Henstchel “began to disrupt the service,” and was asked to leave, police say.

But instead of walking out, he took out lighter and tried to burn the American flag that was on display next to a religious flag and a statue covered in cloth, as part of the Lenten period, according to a police report.

Henstchel, 38, was arrested and charged with attempted arson.

“There are visible burn marks to the tassels on the end of the flag,” an officer wrote in Henstchel’s arrest report. “The close proximity of all these items presented a danger, had only one of these items caught on fire it would have caused all of them to be ablaze.”

The police department was called to the church, but Henstchel, who is homeless, was gone when officers arrived. He was found shortly after and arrested.

The attempted arson, came the same day as a college philosophy teacher was arrested for going into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York with two cans of gasoline, lighter fluid and butane lighters.

A fire broke out at the famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019.

Carli Teproff grew up in Northeast Miami-Dade and graduated from Florida International University in 2003. She became a full-time reporter for the Miami Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news.