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Man charged with setting fire to historic Victory Baptist Church in South Los Angeles

Arson charges have been filed in connection with the fire that destroyed the historic Victory Baptist Church in South Los Angeles last week.

Carlos Francisco Diaz, 23, was arrested by the Los Angeles School Police Department on Sunday and charged on Tuesday with three counts of arson. He is being held on $225,000 bond.

Diaz is suspected of “willfully, unlawfully and maliciously” setting fire to the church on South McKinley Avenue, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón.

Man charged with setting fire to historic Victory Baptist Church in South Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA – September 12: The charred remains of Victory Baptist Church the day after a fire destroyed the historic church in Los Angeles on Monday September 12, 2022.

Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

“A church is a sanctuary, a place of worship, a place of healing and above all a place of gathering for the good of our community,” Gascón said in a statement. “The fire at the historic Victory Baptist Church has deeply hurt our community.”

Victory Baptist Church was founded in 1943 in a storefront, moving to its current location at East 48th Street and McKinley Avenue the following year. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was a guest speaker when Victory celebrated its 24th anniversary, and gospel singer Mahalia Jackson once sang there.

The church burned down early on September 11, and three firefighters were injured when the building collapsed. The church leaders and members vowed to rebuildand although little could be saved from the charred rubble, a piano and a pulpit were recovered and are still usable.


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