Arrest Made in Church Arson Case

Eugene Volk, 45, is accused of setting fire to Santa Sophia Catholic Church in Spring Valley on the night of Oct. 8

A man has been arrested on suspicion of setting fire to a church in Spring Valley, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department confirmed Friday.

Deputies say Eugene Volk, 45, was taken into custody Thursday for his alleged role in an arson case at Santa Sophia Catholic Church.

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.

Firefighters were able to knock down the blaze within 10 minutes.

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.

Officials determined the fire seemed suspicious in nature, and called investigators from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Bomb Arson Unit and ATF to the scene.

Ultimately, arson investigators determined the fire was set intentionally.

On Wednesday, officials announced a $5,000 reward was being offered for information leading to an arrest in the case.

After a couple of days, a lead investigator in the case developed sufficient probable cause to arrest Volk as the prime arson suspect.

On Thursday, arson investigators located Volk walking less than a quarter-mile from the church at the intersection of Campo Road and Conrad Drive in Spring Valley.

Detectives arrested Volk and he 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. He’s scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

According to Father Jacob Bertrand, the priest at Santa Sophia Catholic Church, the fire started near the church altar right by a crucifix.

On Wednesday, Bertrand told NBC 7 that he felt there is still hope for the accused arsonist.

"When anyone makes decisions in their lives that obviously harm other people, there is a justice system that we have," Bertrand said. "But as that justice process goes through, I hope it's something that can be a deepening in their personal and spiritual life, some kind of opportunity for conversion and how they approach things."

Contact Us