A suspect in an attempted arson at a church in Regina, Saskatchewan was caught on surveillance footage last week.
The footage, which is under a minute long, was posted on social media by Fr. James Hentges, a priest at Regina’s Blessed Sacrament Parish on Saturday.
A camera captured a man with his face covered pouring what is presumed to be gasoline from a jerry can onto the front entrance of the church.
He can then be seen lighting the office entrance of the church on fire before running away.
“The alarm went off immediately when it detected smoke,” Hentges told 980 CJME AM radio in an interview. “My Apple iPods picked up the alarm and alerted me… that there was an alarm going off in my home.”
The church, which is located in Regina’s downtown at 2039 Scarth St., had to cancel its Sunday mass as a result of the fire and its clean up and won’t be able to provide services until Wednesday.
Regina police started an investigation on the incident on Friday afternoon and Hentges asked in his social media post for anyone with information to contact Regina police or Crime Stoppers.
Firefighters arrived on the scene around 3:40 a.m. on Friday morning, following reports of the fire.
Fortunately, they managed to extinguish the flames before any major damage occurred.
“We have done a thorough investigation, and it was an intentionally set fire,” Deputy Chief Gord Hewitt told reporters. “We’re working with our Regina Police Service right now on providing those details to them.”
“Our crews managed to contain the fire to the exterior,” Hewitt said. “Internally, it was just smoke, which we managed to ventilate (from) the property.”
The Regina Police Service has not provided any further updates on the investigation since Sunday afternoon.
Since the announcement of a potential mass grave near a residential school in Kamloops, B.C. in 2021, 96 Christian churches in Canada have been vandalized or burned across the country.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre addressed these arsons publicly last month.
“There is no justification for burning down a church period. Regardless of the other information or justifications that people claim to use, there is never a justification to burn down a church,” said Poilievre.
He pledged that his government would allocate resources for a comprehensive investigation into the allegations of human remains at former residential school sites.