Man Sets Fire to Church in Police Standoff, Commits Suicide

Blotter: Home Invasion
(Photo credit: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons)

A 42-year-old man set fire to a Center Moriches church and barricaded himself inside, sparking an hours-long police standoff before he committed suicide on Friday afternoon, Suffolk County police said.

A retired NYPD sergeant initially called 911 to report a man trying to set a vehicle on fire in the parking lot of Saint John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church on Ocean Avenue at 1:30 p.m., police said.

Officers who responded to the scene followed the man, John Beneventano, into the church, where he threw a gas can at officers and attempted to light them on fire, causing the officers to retreat, police said. He then lit a match and started a fire inside the building, police said.

Officers set up a perimeter outside the building while Emergency Service Section Officers and the Hostage Negotiation Team tried to make contact with him, but it was later determined that he committed suicide, police said. There were no other injuries reported.

Homicide Squad and Arson Section detectives are continuing the investigation.

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