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Loveland man charged in connection with church fire

Abiding Love Lutheran Church
Posted at 2:13 PM, Jan 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-27 16:13:18-05

DENVER — A 21-year-old from Loveland has been charged by criminal complaint with setting fire to a Loveland church.

Darion Ray Sexton, 21, of Loveland was arrested on Friday and charged on Monday, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado.

According to the allegations in the complaint, in the evening hours of Jan. 19, law enforcement responded to a fire at Abiding Love Lutheran Church, located at 2825 E. 1st St. They were able to extinguish a fire at the front door of the church before finding that there was another fire in the basement and the church smelled like gasoline. A glass bottle was broken near the front door, according to the US Attorney's Office.

Firefighters found another broken bottle in the basement and a partially melted plastic bottle.

The fires were extinguished and the church had minimal damage. Nobody was injured.

Denver 7+ Colorado News Latest Headlines | January 27, 11am

Based on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives analysis, there were multiple areas of fire origin.

A doorbell camera captured video of a masked person throwing a Molotov cocktail-type device at the church's front door.

Authorities traced the footprints in the snow around the front door to a neighborhood and Sexton's residence, according to the US Attorney's Office.

Investigators later found a plastic bottle at his home similar to the one from the church's basement.

Law enforcement also found a surveillance video from a Loveland liquor store two days before the fire. Sexton appeared to be buying liquor in bottles similar to the ones found broken at the church, according to the US Attorney's Office.

Sexton is being held on investigation of first-degree arson and possession, use, or removal of an incendiary device.

In addition to the ATF, the FBI and Loveland Police Department are investigating this case.

A motive is not yet clear.

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