Parishioners of Burned Church 'Relieved' After Arson Suspect Arrest

By Joe Young
|  Saturday, Oct 12, 2013  |  Updated 3:21 PM PDT
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Parishioners of a Spring Valley church that caught on fire Tuesday say they are relieved after the arrest of a 45-year-old man police suspect committed the church arson.

Parishioners of a Spring Valley church that caught on fire Tuesday say they are relieved after the arrest of a 45-year-old man police suspect committed the church arson.

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Church Fire Investigated as Arson

Arson investigators say someone intentionally started a fire at the Santa Sophia church in Spring Valley. NBC 7's Lea Sutton has the latest.
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Parishioners of a Spring Valley church that caught on fire Tuesday say they are relieved after the arrest of a 45-year-old man police suspect committed the church arson.

 "I think the reaction is 'awww, relief'," said Father Jacob Bertrand  of the Santa Sophia Catholic Church. "We can say, 'you know what, we don't have to stress that we're going to be worried about something this weekend. Some other type of second attack of some kind.' I think that's a big, big relief." Father Jacob said.

On Tuesday, just before 8 p.m., a fire broke out at the church located at 9800 San Juan Street, causing more than $200,000 in damage to the church.

It's believed that the fire started near the church altar right by a crucifix.

A group of Boy Scouts were meeting in an adjacent building when the fire broke out, but they were evacuated safely. No one was injured in the incident.

Crews were able to knock down the fire in ten minutes.

Once the incident was determined to be arson, investigators began searching for suspects.

After offering a reward and making suspect information public, deputies later arrested Eugene Volk  on Thursday for his alleged role in the arson.

At the time of his arrest, Volk was found walking less than a quarter-mile from the church at the intersection of Campo Road and Conrad Drive in Spring Valley.

Father Jacob said Volk was not a registered parishioner of the church but that doesn't mean he didn't spend time there.

Volk was booked into San Diego Central Jail on multiple felony charges, including arson to an inhabited structure, vandalizing a place of worship and committing a felony while on bail.

Volk’s bail has been set at $500,000 and he is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a clean up effort is underway at the church.

Church members were able to salvage some things from the fire started near the church altar. Officials said this weekend's mass will now be in the Parish Hall and this Sunday's lesson could be forgiveness.

"We are a forgiving people," said Father Jacob said. "We do believe in justice and we want justice to be served through the system as it would provide."

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