Arson suspected in fire at Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More

Published: Jun. 5, 2019 at 8:31 PM EDT
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By: WCTV Eyewitness News

Updated- June 6, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- An initial investigation into a fire at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Tallahassee reveals it may have been intentionally started.

The Tallahassee Fire Department and the Tallahassee Police Department responded Wednesday to the fire at the church at 900 W. Tennessee Street.

"My first initial reaction to this is shock. How could this happen to a church?" said Rector John Cayer. "Having seen churches burn in the news, seeing this before, I didn't ever think that this would happen to our church here."

He said a Florida State University student saw the smoke and called authorities.

"We have no idea who has done this," Cayer said. "This is an obvious case of arson. We are very upset. The community is becoming very upset and we hope that there is some resolution to this."

Cayer said several chair were lit on fire using some sort of accelerant, and that the sanctuary is burned. He's asking for prayers for the church and congregation.

"We're going to rebuild from this," he added. "We are going to get through it. This is not where it ends. We are very hopeful for the future."

Rector Cayer said a service was supposed to take place at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, meaning the doors had been unlocked. No injuries were reported.

Authorities say the scene is still under investigation.

CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said in a statement Thursday, “I am saddened to hear of an apparently intentional fire set at the St. Thomas More Co-Cathedral in Tallahassee yesterday. My arson detectives responded immediately to assist local authorities in determining the cause. Arson is a costly and dangerous crime, and my arson detectives will continue to assist authorities in any way to bring those responsible to justice.”