Man accused of setting church ablaze

EL CAJON, Calif. – A 38-year-old man was jailed for suspicion of arson, burglary and committing a hate crime after a fire caused about $250,000 in damage to a Greek Orthodox church in Rancho San Diego, a sheriff’s sergeant said.

“Darin Williams, 38, was quickly identified as a suspect in the apparent arson, investigator,” Sheriff’s Sgt. E.J. Dayrit said. The 4 a.m. fire was at Saint Gregory of Nyssa Greek Orthodox Church, off of Jamacha road in unincorporated El Cajon.

church fireNo one was hurt in the fire. Most of the damage was in the patio area and attic. Church artifacts, including the altar, were not damaged. 

Investigators from the Sheriff’s Bomb/Arson Unit and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were summoned, and announced the arrest less than 10 hours after the fire.

Investigators did not disclose how they identified Williams as their suspect. But a church member who did not want to give her name told Fox 5 News that Williams rented a room from her family and described him as “crazy” and “angry.”

Williams was arrested on suspicion of arson, burglary and committing a hate crime, according to Dayrit, who added the investigation was ongoing.

Williams was booked into the San Diego Central Jail and was scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to jail records.