On August 31, New Testament Assemblies Church in Lansing caught fire at around 5:30 p.m. The church, located in a residential area in the 100 block of Astor Avenue, is just south of McLaren Hospital. It took firefighters about an hour to extinguish the flames; the building was also filled with smoke and heat, causing the firefighters to have to vent the roof. Fire officials believe after investigating that the fire began in the rear of the church building on the floor. At that time, the cause of the fire was not known.
On September 18, news reports revealed that it had been determined that the cause of the fire was arson. Authorities believe the fire was intentionally set, and have identified a suspect according to Lansing Fire Marshal Brad Drury. The church suffered extensive damage, but no one was injured. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was working with the fire department to solve the crime, which has left the church burned out and boarded up.
Details regarding the individual suspected of committing the arson have not been released in order to avoid jeopardizing the criminal investigation. Stunned neighbors are happy that officials have a suspect in mind; one resident commented that the offense was unbelievable, and she questioned who on earth would do that to the Lord’s house.
Michigan criminal defense attorneys realize that arson is a serious criminal offense that some believe to be “harmless,” particularly if a small fire is set in order to get revenge. However, even a small fire can spread to enormous proportions, putting property and lives at risk. Those charged with and convicted on arson charges may face serious punishment.
The penalties you face if convicted depend on several factors, including whether it is determined you were attempting to commit insurance fraud, whether it was malicious arson or whether someone lost his or her life in the fire. Regardless of your intentions or whether you are guilty or innocent of the crime you are being accused of, it is critical that you protect your legal rights and freedom by consulting with a skilled Michigan arson lawyer.