NEW BRITAIN, C.T. (AP) — Police have charged a suspect in custody with arson in fires at two houses of worships, a Connecticut mayor said Saturday.
New Britain’s Fire Department responded Friday night to fires at Congregation Tephereth Israel around 8 p.m., and shortly after at St. Matthew Lutheran Church.
New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart told WVIT-TV that the damage at the synagogue was “pretty extensive,” while the church fire was smaller. No one was inside the houses of worship at the time of the fires, the television station reported.
Police have not released the identity of the individual charged with arson.
Stewart said law enforcement was notified of a burglary at a nearby church shortly after the fire at St. Matthew Lutheran Church. Stewart said she thinks “there’s no doubt that the incidents are connected.”
Law enforcement will investigate, the mayor said, and Sunday services will feature increased police presence to ensure people feel safe. “But this is definitely alarming. We never hear of situations like this where churches are targeted so it certainly has our backs up,” Stewart said.