Md. man charged for throwing gas bombs at church and planning to vandalize 13 others

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Several small fires were set at a local church — a man and woman are now under arrest. (Photo Montgomery County Fire and Rescue)

A couple who allegedly acted on their hatred for religious faith and the faithful were arrested on second-degree arson charges and other counts — including those of hate crimes — in connection with the small fires set April 8 at a Catholic church in Wheaton, Md.

Andrew Costas, 28, of Rockville was arrested for throwing lit Molotov cocktails at St. Catherine Laboure Roman Catholic Church, WTOP News reports. He also allegedly told his girlfriend he was the anti-Christ and that he had plans to target 13 local houses of worship, according to documents.

Costas also faces charges in a recent hate crime for scrawling swastikas on a local synagogue last month.

Rebecca Matathias, 23, of Brookville, “described Costas as satanic, and that he labels himself as the anti-Christ,” wrote Capt. Erin Wirth, of the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office.

“He told her he wanted to vandalize three synagogues and 10 churches,” Wirth wrote, describing what Costas allegedly told Matathias.

According to investigators, Costas and Matathias drove to the religious school adjacent to the church, made gasoline bombs and threw them against the wall of the church.

According to Wirth, the woman lit both Mason jar devices and handed them to Costas, who threw them at the wall of the building. The couple also filled a beer can with gasoline, stuffed in newspaper, lit it and threw it down a staircase toward the church.

“Matathias advised the fire was so big it blew the door open at the bottom of the stairs,” and that was corroborated by a Ring security camera mounted nearby.

Costas and Matathias were each charged by fire investigators with two felony counts of arson, two felony counts of malicious destruction over $1,000, four felony counts of using a destructive device and one misdemeanor count of damaging property of a religious entity.

The previous Friday, Costas had been arrested for the March 28 defacing of Tikvat Israel Congregation, located in the 2200 block of Baltimore Road in Rockville. Costas was charged with the hate crime of damaging property because of a person’s religious beliefs, as well as defacing a religious facility and malicious destruction.

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