Westboro protesters

Westboro protesters (Associated Press)

OMAHA, Neb. -- Police in Nebraska arrested a man for allegedly macing demonstrators outside the funeral of a U.S. Marine on Saturday.

The incident happened just before 10 a.m. about a block away from First United Methodist Church during funeral services for Staff Sgt. Michael Bock.

Bock, 26, was killed in Afghanistan's Helmand province on August 13.

Officers says the suspect drove by in a pickup truck and sprayed mace at protesters and counter-protesters.

The protesters were members of a small Kansas congregation -- Westboro Baptist Church -- that often demonstrates at military funerals.

George Vogel, 62, of Omaha, was booked for 16 counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of felony assault on a police officer. He also faces one count of child neglect because his child was in the truck.

Initial indications were that the dozen or so Westboro protesters were the target of the attack.

Westboro members believe God is punishing the United States for "the sin of homosexuality" through events including soldiers' deaths. Their signs often read "Thank God for Dead Soliders," "God Hates Your Tears," etc.)

The congregation is led by Fred Phelps.

Their protests have spawned a counter-movement, the Patriot Guard Riders, who shield military family members.

Nearly 600 members of the Patriot Guard surrounded the church for Bock's funeral.

Scott Knudsen, Patriot Guard Riders captain for Nebraska, said no members of the Patriot Guard had any interactions with the protesters.