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NYPD steps up patrols at Staten Island churches as hunt for firebomb suspect continues

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STATEN ISLAND -- The NYPD is stepping up patrols at churches across Staten Island as police hunt for the person who firebombed two churches within four days.

"We believe it is an attack on religion," Deputy Inspector Mark Magrone, commanding officer of the Hates Crimes unit of the NYPD.

The NYPD wants you to look closely at this person of interest, caught on surveillance video, who police say may have hurled two lit Molotov cocktails at the First Central Baptist Church of Staten Island early Thursday morning.

The target may have been a church window but instead this church awning caught fire.

These two police officers put out the flames at 1:43 a.m.

Officers Jimmy Ramirez described the fireball he and his partner extinguished. "It was about three feet," he said.

The officers were on a pre-dawn patrol of churches in the area after someone tossed another Molotov cocktail through an open stained glass window at nearby Saint Paul's episcopal church, just four days earlier, scorching the church floor.

"We don't know what we are dealing with here," James Otto , Staten Island Borough President. "But the NYPD is doing a great job."

The NYPD met with church and community leaders to detail the increased security at more than 200 churches across Staten Island until this church fire bomber is caught.

"We are praying for the person who did this, "Rev. Dr. Demetrius Carolina, the pastor of the First Central Baptist Church told PIX11. "And we are thankful no one was hurt."

And parishioner Shameeka Johnson said she would attend Sunday services as usual.

"I believe in my God and I will go take my child to church as I am supposed to," she said.