NJ man torched Catholic church with gas and lighter, police say
FRANKLIN LAKES — A 26-year-old borough resident is accused of intentionally setting a fire that completely destroyed a Catholic church.
James Z. Mayers is charged with aggravated arson and burglary, Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella said Wednesday.
According to the prosecutor, very early Wednesday morning, Mayers entered The Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church at 787 Franklin Lakes Road and used gasoline and a cigarette lighter to purposely set it ablaze.
The Academy of the Most Blessed Sacrament, a private elementary school for students in grades Pre-K through 8, is on the same property but was not directly affected by the fire, according to the Archdiocese of Newark.
Classes were canceled Wednesday and the parish is "identifying alternative sites for Masses, liturgies, and parish activities," according to the same written statement from church officials.
Mayers was arrested at the scene and treated by first responders for burns suffered while starting the fire.
He was taken to Bergen County Jail pending a court appearance in Hackensack.
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