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Investigators looking for arsonist who attempted to set fire to Baton Rouge church

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BATON ROGUE - The search continues for an arsonist who tried lighting a church building on fire Easter Sunday.

“It's pretty crazy to hear this news actually on Easter Sunday. Trying to burn down a church is not something I would expect to hear around here,” said Hamed Ghassemi, the owner of BR Autoplex. 

BR Autoplex sits across the street from Istrouma Baptist Church near I-12. 

The neighboring business was shocked to learn someone tried to set part of the church on fire.

“The facility manager got on scene, saw remnants of fire and called the fire department,” explained Curt Monte with the Baton Rouge Fire Department. 

Once firefighters got to the scene, they weren't met by a fire. But what they did find caused some skepticism. 

“Our truck responded to make sure the fire was completely out. Upon arrival, the fire did look suspicious,” Monte said. 

Surveillance video shows a man walking up and seconds later running away but not before seeing the orange glow.

WBRZ reached out to the church who released this statement, “Our staff is working with Baton Rouge Police Department, Baton Rouge Fire Department, and arson investigators after a security camera captured video of suspicious activity at our Baton Rouge Campus. The incident resulted in no damage to our facilities, with minimal clean-up required, and with no disruption to on-campus activities. We are grateful for God’s protection over our people and facilities and thankful for our first responders.”

Investigators are sure the cause was arson. 

“[There were] no heat source, no way the fire being started without human interaction involved,” Monte said. 

The incident shocked the neighboring business, but he says he is seeing more and more shocking crimes in the area and city as a whole. 

“Unfortunately for Baton Rouge it's coming to where it's just you know what's next? We're seeing a lot of bad things happening around the area,” Ghassemi said. 

A lot of people are scratching their heads trying to figure out why, and investigators are still piecing that together as well. 

“We don't know why. A motive has not been figured out but certainly from the video that person is a person of interest, and our investigators would like to talk to them,” Monte said. 

The motive is unknown but the crime is unmistakable. 

“Arson is a very peculiar crime. It happens for so many different reasons. It could be domestic. It could be to cover up other crimes. It could be insurance. It could be so many other things involved,” Monte explained. 

But as of now, investigators don't know what this reason was.

The fire was started at the entrance of an attached classroom building not the main sanctuary.

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BATON ROGUE - The search continues for an arsonist who tried lighting a church building on fire Easter Sunday. ... More >>
1 month ago Monday, April 18 2022 Apr 18, 2022 Monday, April 18, 2022 10:56:00 PM CDT April 18, 2022
BATON ROUGE - Law enforcement officers are looking for an arsonist seen on video setting fire to a building on... More >>
1 month ago Monday, April 18 2022 Apr 18, 2022 Monday, April 18, 2022 6:55:00 PM CDT April 18, 2022

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