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Oct 22, 2017

What's Going On at Center Moriches FD?


Firefighters put on lockdown while responding to call …
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By Company One Captain Bill Renzetti
May 19, 2017

At 1:34pm on Friday the Center Moriches Fire Department was requested to a van fire in the parking lot of the St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church at the corner of Montauk Highway and Ocean Ave. What is usually a routine call quickly turned into a major incident for emergency responders.

Things started unfolding at about 1:30 p.m. when Suffolk County police received a 911 call from retired NYPD sergeant who saw a man, identified as 42-year-old John Beneventano of Shirley, trying to set a van on fire in the church parking lot.

Beneventano then entered the church with what appeared to be a gas can and did not come back out.

Officers who approached the church saw incendiary devices that appeared to be propane tanks. One officer who did enter the church encountered Beneventano, who threw gasoline at him and lit a match, starting a fire. The officer backed out and was not injured.

Suffolk County police backed away from the church as Beneventano barricaded himself inside, creating a standoff. Firefighters were held up from going into the scene and were staged at Montauk Highway and Neville Street until Suffolk County Police deemed the area safe.

Police, using an armored vehicle breached the side door of the church. A robot was sent into the church to give police a better idea of what was happening inside. It was also used to search for any other explosive devices.

As SWAT officers cleared the building, they used equipment provided by the Center Moriches Fire Department. A thermal imaging camera allowed tactical officers to see through the smoke to look for heat signatures in the building. Numerous fire extinguishers and pressurized water cans were also used to extinguish the fires as the SWAT officers made their way through the building.

With Center Moriches Firefighters on lock down a block from the church, additional departments were called in to assist.

East Moriches firefighters were requested to stage at Montauk Highway and Belleview Ave to cover any calls east of the church. Mastic firefighters were staged at the Center Moriches firehouse to cover calls west of the church.

Two Advanced Life Support ambulances from Center Moriches Fire Department and one from East Moriches Community Ambulance stood by at the staging area on Montauk Highway in case of any injuries to emergency personnel on scene.

Mastic Ambulance also stood by at the Center Moriches firehouse to cover any other EMS calls in Center Moriches. Westhampton Ambulance was requested to respond to the staging area with their Cynokit, a special medication used to reverse the effects of cyanide poisoning commonly seen in smoke inhalation victims.

Just after 5 p.m. Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini reported that the suspect had killed himself, and that there was no reason to believe anyone else was inside. He emphasized that the scene was still very active and the building had to be carefully searched for possible explosive devices before the site could be deemed safe.

The Center Moriches fire chief started releasing mutual aid units at 5:30pm. Center Moriches firefighters remained on scene until being released by Suffolk County Police at 7pm.

No emergency personnel were injured at the incident.

Mutual Aid: East Moriches FD, East Moriches Community Ambulance, Mastic FD, Mastic Ambulance, Westhampton Beach Ambulance


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