The National Post
April 17, 2017 4:16 PM ET
Toronto Police A still from surveillance footage of the suspect in an Easter Sunday arson at a Toronto church.
TORONTO — Police in Ontario cottage country arrested a 43-year-old man on Monday who was wanted for allegedly setting fire to a Toronto church on Easter Sunday.
Toronto Police Det. Shawn Gilbert said Ontario Provincial Police in Huntsville arrested the suspect, Marc Porlier, around 2:30 p.m. on Monday. Porlier is a former parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church near Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue in Toronto, said Rev. Andrew Maderak, the parish priest.
Maderak said a staff member found the church filled with smoke around 8 a.m. Sunday, an hour before mass. Maderak hurried over to the church, where the smoke inside was so thick “you could probably only see maybe 15 feet ahead of you.”
The fire extinguished on its own, he said. It appears to have started in the sacristy, where the priest prepares for mass. One of the windows into the sacristy was broken, and the arsonist likely used “some kind of accelerant” to start the fire, the priest said.
Before the fire, Maderak had security cameras installed after a spate of vandalism at the church. The surveillance video showed a man at the window to the sacristy “committing the crime,” he said. But Maderak said investigators asked him not to publicly reveal details from the video, so he wouldn’t say how exactly the man started the fire.
Church services for Easter Sunday were cancelled. While the fire didn’t spread beyond the sacristy, there was significant smoke damage throughout the rest of the church. Neil MacCarthy, a spokesman with the Archdiocese of Toronto, said estimates for repairs are between $50,000 and $100,000. The church is expected to reopen for mass next weekend.
Police on Sunday released stills from the surveillance footage showing a bald, white male who was later identified as Porlier. He is charged with arson and mischief over $5,000.
Maderak said Porlier went to the elementary school adjacent the church. Porlier’s family are still parishioners, he said.
Police wouldn’t say why the church was targeted.
“Until I talk to (the suspect) or someone has a debriefing with him, we’re not going to know,” Det. Gilbert told the National Post.
Mayor John Tory visited the church on Monday afternoon as a show of “solidarity with the people in this parish,” CP24 reported.
“When this kind of thing happens, it cuts to the heart of the community,” he said.
Toronto Police officers were planning to transfer Porlier to the city on Monday. Det. Gilbert said the suspect should appear in court Tuesday.
I wonder if there will be any more news on this after today’s court appearance?