Friday, December 16, 2011

LDS Chapel In Santaquin, Utah Heavily Damaged By Vandalism And Fire; Two Teenagers Arrested, Damage Estimated At $2 Million

A stake center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located at 200 East 100 South in Santaquin, Utah was heavily damaged from vandalism and fire on December 15th, 2011. Arson is suspected; damage is estimated at $2 million. The stake center was built in the 1940s and was one of the oldest churches in Santaquin; part of the building was recently renovated. Since this was first posted, two teenagers, 17 and 16 years old respectively, have been arrested and are being investigated for burglary, theft, and arson. KSTU Channel 13 also picked up the story, and an updated KSL Channel 5 news video is now embedded below:

Police say the vandals entered through an open window, started trashing the kitchen, then unsuccessfully attempted to start two or three fires before successfully igniting a trash pile. Damage was concentrated in the south wing of the chapel, where there are several classrooms, the Relief Society room, and the bishop's office. Authorities downplay the possibility of a hate crime, saying the church had not received any recent threats. The three wards which use the chapel have been temporarily displaced.

Adding insult to injury was the fact that the local church was preparing to host a community fundraiser for a local man, Scott LeBaron, who is suffering from fourth stage pancreatic cancer. The fundraiser was to include a silent auction, but many of the items to be auctioned were also reported to be destroyed in the fire. Nevertheless, the fundraiser was moved to the new Santaquin stake center on Main Street.

One local resident posted a comment to the KSL story which added some insight:

Jolynn191978 posted December 15th around 2:00 P.M:
I live down the street from there and know more details. The kids who did this came in through an open window, dumped a lot of food from the fundraiser all over the kitchen (and ate what they wanted), then started mini fires in the hall before running. Most of the damage is smoke related. No items from the fundraiser were destroyed -- just food.

And another commenter speculated that it may have been the same group of teenagers who recently vandalized another building in Santaquin:

Jana Janssen posted December 15th around 7:00 P.M:
I own a public building that was vandalized by young teenagers just down the street a week ago.. When I tried to file a complaint with the police they laughed in my face that kids will be kids.. Maybe this will get their attention and maybe could of been prevented had they taken the vandalism of my building seriously!..

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