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Man charged with arson in Taneytown church blaze

A Taneytown man has been charged with arson after throwing a Molotov cocktail inside a church, setting it ablaze early Friday, the state fire marshal’s office said.

David Francis Creager, 47, of Harney Road in Taneytown, was arrested after firefighters responded to fire at the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church on Friday morning.

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Firefighters were called at at 8:27 a.m. to the church located on West Baltimore Street and extinguished the blaze within minutes. No injuries were reported.

An investigation by the state fire marshals found that a Molotov cocktail incendiary device within the church’s vestibule had caused the fire and resulted in $10,000 in damage.

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In a Facebook post, church officials said a witness called 911 and attempted to help put out the fire and detain Creager until police arrived.

“We are grateful that he was an observant and concerned neighbor who helped minimize the damage caused to the building,” the post said.

One fire was started in the lower narthex, and a second was lit on a communion tray table in the sanctuary, church officials said. The table and nearby carpet under it were damaged, as well as other items. The blaze left “a bit of ash on every horizontal surface,” they said.

Church officials also thanked firefighters for their quick response, and asked for prayers for Creager.

“We ask that you pray for him as the authorities work with him,” church officials said.

Creager, who was arrested at the scene, was charged with second-degree arson, defacing religious property, and other offenses. He is being held at the Carroll County Detention Center without bond and did not have an attorney listed in online court records.

“A clear motive has not been established yet,” Oliver Alkire, spokesperson for the fire marshal’s office, said Tuesday. “By all indications he has no connection to that church,” but the investigation is ongoing.

Alkire acknowledged the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives also responded to the fire, which is common practice for incidents involving houses of worship.

Carroll County Times reporter Mary Grace Keller contributed to this article.

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