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.