The Archdiocese of Los Angeles was taking stock Thursday of damage to the four-story St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Boyle Heights damaged by a man in boxer shorts who allegedly set the bell tower on fire before being taken into custody.
“The church building incurred some damage, including fire damage to the roof of the bell tower and some broken stained-glass windows, but thankfully no one was in the building at the time,” said Archdiocese spokeswoman Itzel Magana. “The parish is currently assessing the extent of the damage.”
The parish has been part of the Boyle Heights community more than a century, Magana said.
Los Angeles Fire Department units responded about 8:25 p.m. Wednesday to the church at 407 S. Chicago St. on reports of a possible jumper on the roof who appeared “to be trying to light the building on fire,” according to the department’s Margaret Stewart.
The fire on top of the church bell tower appeared to burn out without threat of spreading to the rest of the building, according to reports from the scene.
The man also appeared to kick a statue in an attempt to knock it over.
“The suspect eventually jumped onto other buildings/homes,” said Los Angeles Police Department Officer Mike Lopez. “The suspect managed to force entry into a residence located at 2100 block East Fourth Street by smashing a window. Officers helped the people inside get out.
Officers got the man to come down and he was taken into custody, Lopez said. He was booked for suspicion of arson and burglary hot prowl but his name was not immediately released.