A suspected arson attack has caused extensive damage to a Cathedral in Tallahassee, Florida.
Fire Crews were called to the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More at West Tennessee Street near the Florida State University campus Wednesday after members of the church noticed smoke rising from the sanctuary.
Congregant Michael Williams tweeted a picture of the damage, which appears to be extensive — four cathedra and presiders chairs had been set on fire in a blatant and deliberate arson attack.
“Thankfully no one was hurt, damage was limited and authorities are investigating,” Williams wrote in a follow-up tweet. “But this hurts. This is an attack on more than a building.”
“My first initial reaction to this is shock,” Rector John Cayer told WCTV. “How could this happen to a church? Having seen churches burn in the news, seeing this before, I didn’t ever think that this would happen to our church here.”
The church’s Business manager Dasha Nixon told the Tallahassee Democrat that she felt “sadness and shock that there is this kind of hate.”
“We have all have seen hate in many different forms aimed at different groups,” Nixon added. “I feel pity for the person that did this because something has transpired in their life to cause them to do something like this. But when something like this happens to a church, you feel vulnerable.”
Nixon noted that the suspect could have very easily made their way into the sanctuary during the custodian opening the church’s side doors as people arrived for mass early.
“We have no idea who has done this,” Cayer added. “This is an obvious case of arson. We are very upset. The community is becoming very upset and we hope that there is some resolution to this.”
“I am saddened to hear of an apparently intentional fire set at the St. Thomas More Co-Cathedral in Tallahassee yesterday,” said Florida’s CFO, Jimmy Patronis in a letter to the outlet.
“My arson detectives responded immediately to assist local authorities in determining the cause. Arson is a costly and dangerous crime, and my arson detectives will continue to assist authorities in any way to bring those responsible to justice.”
In the face of such a hate, and as the congregation picks itself up, Rector Cayer asked for prayers.
“We’re going to rebuild from this,” he told WCTV. “We are going to get through it. This is not where it ends. We are very hopeful for the future.”