Authorities Ask For The Public’s Help In Unsolved Church Arsons
Thirteen churches in eight Minnesota communities have been intentionally set on fire since 2012, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, and now authorities are asking for your help.
The Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) and local authorities want anyone with information on these unsolved cases to come forward. One blaze last year caused millions of dollars in damage at Melrose’s St. Mary Catholic Church and in 2012 surveillance captured a suspect walking into an Isanti church in the middle of the night and attempting to light on fire part of the building under construction.
Since 2012 there have been several arson fires in places of worship:
- Darling Historic Church on March 24, 2017, in Little Falls.
- St. Mary’s Catholic Church on March 11, 2016, in Melrose.
- Abandoned church on Aug. 22, 2016, in Deer Creek.
- Church, Inc., building on Feb. 15, 2016, in St. Paul.
- Bethany Lutheran Church on June 13, 2014, in Minneapolis.
- Open Arms Assembly of God on Sept. 6, 2014, in St. Paul.
- Community Covenant Church on July 11, 2013, in Minneapolis.
- Faith Baptist Church on Aug. 26, 2013, in St. Paul.
- St. Elizabeth Catholic Church on May 28, 2012, in Isanti.
Authorities do not believe any of these church fires are connected.
“The public’s help is critical in solving arsons,” State Fire Marshal Bruce West said. “Even the smallest detail could break a case wide open. We need people to come forward.”
This week is also National Arson Awareness Week and the theme is “Arson Prevention at Houses Worship.” Houses of worship are vulnerable to fire damage because they’re often unoccupied for long periods of time, and in many cases, in rural areas.
The public can call the Minnesota Arson Hotline at 800-723-2020 to submit information about any suspicious fire. Callers can remain anonymous and rewards up to $5,000 are available. Information can also be submitted online at www.mniaai.org.