Sunday morning church fire leads to arson investigation in Longmont

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LONGMONT, Colo. — An arson investigation is underway after police say a man broke into a historic church in Longmont and set it on fire.

Police say a man broke into the CENTRAL Longmont Presbyterian Church on Kimbark Street at 5:40 a.m. on Sunday. Fire investigators say suspect used accelerant to start the fire. The fire caused more than $5,000 in damage, but the alleged perpetrator was caught on camera.

As the sun filtered through the trees along Kimbark Street Sunday, the sound of mallets tapping lightly on a table could heard in a peaceful rhythm.

“The weather is beautiful today,” Carol Duarte with the Northern Colorado Caledonia Pipe Band said.

The Northern Colorado Caledonia Pipe Band was holding an outdoor lesson, after police say a man set fire to the church where they hold practice.

“Any time anybody is disrespectful or vandalizes someone else’s property it’s a sad thing,” Duarte said.

In the surveillance video a man can be seen peering into the glass door, near the Recovery Café area of the church. Then he readjusts his scarf to cover his face and that’s when police say he broke in.

“Like all our faith communities, they do incredible work in our community all the time. So it breaks our heart when our churches get targeted,” Jeff Satur, Longmont Deputy Chief, said.

Police said the suspect poured an accelerant on the floor, that some said smelled like gasoline, and took off. Officers credit the sprinkler system and fire crews for their quick response.

The church, which was built in 1905, suffered extensive damage. The band members said they will continue to improvise and have confidence the church community will be resilient.

“It’s a very vibrant church with a lot of programs that a lot of people benefit from,” Duarte said.

Police are hopeful someone will recognize the man in the video and help them make an arrest. If you have any information, call Longmont Police Dispatch at 303-651-8501.

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