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Suspect in St. John the Evangelist church fire arrested

Last Updated Apr 17, 2017 at 4:44 pm EDT

Police have arrested the suspect wanted in connection with the fire at St. John the Evangelist church on Sunday morning.

Marc Porlier, 43, was arrested by the OPP Huntsville Detachment at around 2:30 p.m. on Monday.

He has been charged with arson and mischief under $5000.

Porlier has no fixed address and was identified from security camera images after allegedly tossing an accelerant into a window of the church located near Weston Road and Lawrence.

He is believed to be a former parishioner. Rev. Andrew Maderak of St. John the Evangelist Church says several people in the congregation have recognized the suspect as a former member of their community.

Maderak says he was reminded that he met the suspect a few weeks ago but does not recall the conversation.

The photos released by police after the incident showed the suspect with two backpacks, reaching down to a large plastic bottle. The exact contents of the bottle are unknown at this time.

Police released this image of a man wanted in connection with the fire at St. John the Evangelist on Sunday morning. TORONTO POLICE
Police released this image of a man wanted in connection with the fire at St. John the Evangelist church on Sunday morning. TORONTO POLICE

 

Neil MacCarthy from the archdiocese of Toronto said church surveillance video clearly showed a man climbing up some fencing on an outside wall, breaking a window and throwing something through it.

A fire was allegedly set intentionally at St. John the Evangelist church on George Street on Sunday morning. GINELLA MASSA/CITYNEWS
A fire was allegedly set intentionally at St. John the Evangelist church on George Street on Sunday morning. GINELLA MASSA/CITYNEWS

 

The church was forced to cancel it’s Easter services and issued an alert on their website saying it was “due to a parish emergency”.

MacCarthy said the incident has shaken the community. “It was very tough for them,” he said. “Some people were in tears.”

Police said the parish priest found the church filled with smoke on Sunday morning when he arrived to conduct Easter services.

He called police at around 8 a.m. and they alerted fire services, who extinguished a small blaze.

No injuries were reported but the church will remain closed for several days for repairs.

 

 

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the city is standing in solidarity with the parish.

 

With files from The Canadian Press