Church arson probe underway as investigators look for clues

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INDIANAPOLIS – Detectives assigned to investigate Wednesday morning’s fire at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church have ruled out all accidental causes.

“Although they do believe it was intentionally set at this point, they’re not sure about the other information‬,” said Captain Rita Burris with the Indianapolis Fire Department.

Investigators arrived around 4:15 a.m. to investigate a report of a break-in. Police called the fire department because the fire alarm was going off. Fire crews found paper material on fire in the sanctuary.

According to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, detectives haven’t found any obvious signs of forced entry. They also said nothing was stolen from the church.

“They’re not sure if someone had been watching for the church door to open and maybe snuck in,” Burris said.

Churchgoers told Fox 59 that they have many questions about who would do this to a church they love. St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church just celebrated its 175th year as a parish.

“I came to Mass today, and it’s all roped off, and I can’t get in‬,” said Greg Allard, a churchgoer from Greenwood.

“My father used to say he used to stop here just like I do and I love beautiful churches and this is one of the prettiest,” said Margin Logan, another churchgoer.

Police revised the damage estimate for the church. They now say damage is in the range of $400,000, mostly due to problems caused by the heavy smoke. The initial estimate had been around $15,000.

Surveillance video will be collected from several street cameras nearby. No suspects have been identified at this time.

3 comments

  • Beth

    Another good reason not to comedown town. Increase in Rental cars tax, increase in ticket tax and parking meters that require your first born male child for payment..Gangsters shooting up the city,robberies everyday,being people abused at the mall by the gangsters.. Now one of the most beautiful churches in Indy has been set on fire. These animals have no fear. They are raping,pillaging and burning our city down.Ballard said that safety was his first priority…he lied

  • smeej

    Just so you reporters are aware, when Catholics use the term “sanctuary,” we mean the front of the Church where the altar is. The main body of the Church is called the “nave,” or the “body.” In this case, the back of the Church is the narthex.

    It’s very confusing to Catholic readers to read that the fire was in the “sanctuary,” but also at the back of the Church. Protestants often use “sanctuary” to refer to the main part of the Church, but Catholics don’t.

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