A 25-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a series of arson and vandalism attacks at churches around Southern California, authorities said Saturday. The Inter-Agency House of Worship Task Force arrested Christian Michael Garcia on Thursday on suspicion of arson and vandalism. Garcia was booked on Friday, at 7:20 p.m. into the Los Angeles Police Department Valley Jail in Van Nuys, according to online inmate records.
The case against him will be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on Monday for prosecution, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a news release.
“Arson and vandalism targeting houses of worship is a serious crime and we have zero tolerance for willful acts of destruction in the city of Los Angeles,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said in a joint statement.
Garcia’s alleged most recent incidents involved an incendiary fire and vandalism Thursday at the more than 90-year-old Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights, and the 129-year-old Church of the Angels in Pasadena on Jan. 13.
Authorities believe Garcia may also be connected to multiple other acts of arson and vandalism that have occurred at houses of worship in Los Angeles County, but did not specify which. A news conference was likely to be held next week.
Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar said in a statement. “On behalf of the Boyle Heights community … we applaud these investigators,”
Thursday’s fire was reported at 2:05 a.m. at the church on the 3300 block of East Opal Street. It took about 60 firefighters nearly 30 minutes to extinguish the fire, which burned primarily on the first floor. The flames were kept from the main sanctuary, said Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott.
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