(ETH) – A man in Florida was arrested on Saturday after plowing his vehicle into a Catholic church and then deliberately setting the building on fire with parishioners inside the building preparing for Mass. According to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office,

Steven Anthony Shields, 24, rammed his van through the front doors of Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Ocala around 7:30 a.m, Where he then reportedly He got out of the vehicle and poured gasoline in the foyer area to set it on fire, according to authorities. The man then drove off but thankfully was spotted by Deputy Josue Gonzalez, who stopped the vehicle by ramming it with his patrol car.

According to Officials none of the parishioners were injured and Marion County firefighters were able to quickly out the fire. Fox News stated: “Our freedom of worship granted in the Constitution is a freedom that we all hold dear,” Sheriff Billy Woods said in a statement.


“My deputies and I are sworn to protect that right and will always ensure our citizens can worship in peace. I’m proud of my deputies for capturing this man so quickly and we appreciate the assistance from all of the state and federal agencies that worked alongside of us during this investigation.” According to the official arrest affidavit obtained by the Ocala Star-Banner, Shields told investigators that what he did was “awesome” and smiled and laughed while admitting to setting the church on fire.