Man charged with firing gun that damaged Gaithersburg church

Montgomery County police say a tip helped lead to the arrest of a 35-year-old man for firing a weapon that damaged a Gaithersburg church on two separate occasions.

Bullet holes, fragments and other damage found on the building of the New Life Seventh Day Adventist Church on Muncaster Mill Road in Gaithersburg were found on Nov. 15 and Nov. 16.

The first incident was reported by a parishioner attending a prayer service at the church after he saw a bullet hole in the window frame near the front entrance.

On the following night at around 11:13 p.m., Montgomery County police officers responded to the area of the church for the report of gunfire. More bullets were located hitting the portico over the front door of the church as well as the cinder block wall on the left side of the front entrance. Several shell casings were also recovered on Muncaster Mill Road near the church.

After receiving a tip, police obtained a warrant to search the Gaithersburg home of 35-year-old Peter Kevin Banfield on Nov. 29. Detectives recovered a handgun and ammunition in his bedroom, which were determined to be forensically linked to the shell casings that were found at the church.

Banfield was arrested on Dec. 5 and charged with reckless endangerment, destruction of religious property, destruction of property over $1,000 and discharging a firearm in an urban area.

A church spokesperson told FOX 5's Kristyn Leon that Banfield has had mental health issues. Banfield's family is part of their congregation and he has attended the church before.