Police Arrest Man Suspected of Setting Churches on Fire in California

A man accused of vandalizing and setting fire to churches in Boyle Heights and Pasadena has been arrested, authorities announced Saturday.

Christian Michael Garcia, 25, was arrested on Thursday for suspicion of arson and vandalism, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement.

Officials linked him to a fire ignited at the Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights Thursday morning, as well as a similar incident at the Church of the Angels in Pasadena earlier in January.

Crews knocked down the fires in less than 30 minutes, officials said. Vandalism was discovered in both churches.

No injuries were reported in those incidents.

Police noted that in addition to the two fires, multiple instances of arson and vandalism occurred at places of worship in Los Angeles County over a period of time.

Messages spray-painted at the Church of the Angels resembled graffiti left in churches in San Fernando and West Covina, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The House of Worship Task Force — which consists of personnel from LAPD, LAFD Pasadena Fire Department, Pasadena police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — were investigating the series of incidents.

“The destruction of a house of worship not only devastates the affected congregation, but affects the entire community,” LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said in the statement. “We will always investigate and prosecute the serious crime of arson to the fullest extent of the law.”

Officials were expected to release more details about the incidents early next week.