Individual setting cross on fire atop roof of St. Mary's Church. Screenshot from KTLA Twitter post.

A man was arrested in Boyle Heights Wednesday night after vandalizing a window and setting a cross on top of St. Mary’s Church on fire.

The man, who wore only underwear and a single sock, allegedly climbed the roof of the historic Boyle Heights church and set fire to a cross. According to a volunteer at St. Mary’s Church who asked not to be identified, a security guard on duty at the church spotted the suspect climbing scaffolding and called the police.

Public Information Officer J Chavez said that “at approximately 8:20 p.m. officers were notified of the incident located at the 400 block of S Chicago Street where they found the suspect on the roof.”

After police arrived on the scene, the man jumped across nearby roofs to avoid arrest. The bizarre situation, shared live on social media and on local newscasts,  continued with the suspect hanging from electrical wires; eventually he entered a family apartment where the suspect was arrested by LAPD officials and taken into custody.

There have been no reported injuries and the fire appeared to put itself out.

St. Mary’s Church on Thursday.

According to a statement from the Los Angeles Archdiocese, the church building suffered some fire damage to the roof of the bell tower and some broken stained-glass windows however no one was harmed because the church was empty at the time. The parish is currently assessing the extent of the damage.

“St. Mary Parish has been an integral part of the Boyle Heights community for more than a century,” said Archdiocese spokeswoman Itzel Magana in an email to Boyle Heights Beat. “We offer our prayers for the St. Mary parish community as they process the impact of this incident, as well as for the individual who was responsible so that he may receive the help needed.  May God’s loving and healing grace be with all impacted by this matter.”

Magana said it was unclear if the church would be open for mass on Sunday.

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Albert Serna Jr.

Albert Serna Jr. is a queer Chicano journalist from the San Gabriel Valley. He has a passion for news, politics, and investigative reporting. On his free time he reads about true crime and does drag.

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