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Man Faces Federal Charges For Burning Churches Down

A man in Douglas, Arizona has been arrested after being connected to two fires involving churches.

Authorities have announced Eric Ridenour will face Federal arson charges after being connected to two church fires at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and First Presbyterian Church.

As of right now Ridenour is being transferred from local authorities to Federal authorities.


A Cochise County man is awaiting transfer to federal custody after his arrest in connection with fires at two Douglas, Arizona, churches.

Douglas police say Eric Ridenour will face an arson-related charge in federal court under 18 USC § 844(i).

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and First Presbyterian Church were damaged by fires that happened Monday, May 22.

Arson investigators from Douglas Police, Douglas Fire, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Gilbert Fire and the Federal Bureau of Investigation determined that the cause of the fires was intentional.

The criminal complaint states surveillance footage showed at 10:38 a.m. on May 22, a blue Pontiac Aztec parked west of Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church and a male subject got out holding a plastic bag before disappearing from view. Four minutes later, the subject is seen walking back toward the vehicle and toward the First Presbyterian Church.

Per ABC 15 News:

Douglas Police Department officials say investigators have determined the fires that damaged two historic churches Monday and early Tuesday were intentionally set.

According to police, investigators identified Eric Ridenour as a person of interest, and the Douglas Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) determined probable cause to execute a search warrant in Ridenour’s home outside Douglas.

During the search, Ridenour was detained and later arrested by ATF as a suspect. He was taken to Cochise County Jail and will be transferred into federal custody. Ridenour will be charged in federal court.

Court officials have told KGUN9 not to expect Ridenour in court before Thursday or Friday. At that point, documents should offer more detail on the case.

Until then, we are able to take a more detailed look at the law:

Federal law has several variations of arson charges. But right now Eric Ridenour is charged with one of the most basic. It’s mainly aimed at arson of business properties and pertains to “actual or attempted damage or destruction, by means of fire or explosives, of any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property.”


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