Two Molotov cocktails were tossed at an Ipswich church this morning, but they did not explode, and they caused no damage, authorities said.
State Fire Marshal Steve Coan called the incident at the First Church on Meetinghouse Green in Ipswich an act of "malicious vandalism." He said investigators do not think it was a hate crime.
Ipswich Police Lieutenant Dan Moriarty said that early this morning a resident who lives near the church became suspicious about two white males, who appeared to be teenagers, loitering near his car. The man went to confront them but they ran toward the library near the church. The man chased them briefly before giving up. Then, while he was heading home, he saw a small fire near the church and reported it at 1:07 a.m.
Fire marshal's spokeswoman Jennifer Mieth said the man had spotted a lit Molotov cocktail, but the fire from the device hadn't spread.
Ipswich Police, State Police, and the Ipswich Fire Department searched the area. Then, at 4:27 a.m., police received another report of a small fire near the church -- a second lit Molotov cocktail, Mieth said.
A Molotov cocktail is a crude bomb that consists of a bottle filled with a flammable liquid. A wick is stuffed into the bottle's neck and lit just before the bottle is thrown.
Coan said his office is investigating along with Ipswich Police detectives. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been notified of the incident.
Pastor Rebecca Brown said the Protestant church goes back 376 years and had "been through a lot," including burning down in 1965.
She said she wasn't aware of anyone with a grudge against the church and recent Easter services had been well attended.
"We think it was a random act of violence. This is a really well-loved church in town," she said.
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more