Man Arrested for Setting Fire to Oldest Black Church in Arizona


Authorities say a 29-year man has been arrested in an arson fire that charred the foyer of an historic black church in downtown Phoenix.

Fire Capt. Reda Bigler says the motive for the fire Friday night at Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church didn’t appear to be related to bias.

She said 29-year-old Marcellus Mais approached police at the scene and claimed responsibility.

A Police Department spokesman said he could not provide additional information.

Jail records indicate Mais was arrested on suspicion of arson of an occupied structure. Online court records don’t indicate whether he has an attorney who could comment on the allegation.

The church’s website says it is the oldest African American church in Arizona, founded in the late 1880s with the existing facility completed in 1929.

Source: AP