Arson attack on Fresno's St. John's Catholic Cathedral

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Surveillance cameras on St. Johns Catholic Cathedral caught an arsonist in the act. Just before 5 am Friday, the suspect is seen pouring a flammable liquid on the doors of the historic church. As the liquid oozes across the ground, the suspect attempts to light it. He fails, then tries again, igniting the liquid.

The fire quickly burned itself out, only scorching the doors and blackening the sidewalk.

Fire investigator Lee Wilding tells Action News, "It appears very deliberate. We don't know at this time what the motive is."

Fire investigators are hoping surveillance video will help them identify a suspect.

Diocese spokesperson Theresa Dominguez says the reason for the attack on the church is a mystery. "Are they angry at the church? Are they angry at God? Are they just angry, and this just happens to be a random target? It certainly appeared to be very intentional."

The incident prompted the diocese to move one morning funeral to another church, but the midday mass was held as usual.

The attack on this historic cathedral came as a shock to church members like Hector Cortez. "How could anybody do something like this, it's crazy. The world is crazy enough already."

Several other arson incidents in alleys and garbage dumpsters occurred in the downtown area at around the same time, but fire investigators don't believe they are related.

Wilding says it's fortunate this fire didn't do more damage. "It could have been very bad."

The video shows the suspect leaving the scene on a bicycle.
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