Teenagers charged in arson of Red Cross van, church
St. Rita's Catholic Church completely destroyed in fire the week before Easter
An 18-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl have been charged for allegedly starting fires that destroyed a Red Cross van and a Catholic church in Castlegar, B.C., last week.
Kootenay Boundary RCMP Insp. Nick Romanchuk said Lee Wilding, 18, and a 16-year-old girl — who can't be named under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act — have each been charged with two counts of arson."We are alleging they set fire to St. Rita's Roman Catholic Church and another vehicle nearby, and we are alleging they acted together and the details will come out in court," Romanchuk said.
Less than a week before Easter, someone set fire to St. Rita's, the only Catholic church in Castlegar.
Police and fire investigators were certain the same arsonist set fire to a Red Cross van in another church's parking lot earlier the same night.
Both the van and the church were completely destroyed, and Catholics from St. Rita's parish ended up holding their Easter services in the parish hall.
Romanchuk says the thought that an arsonist was at large put the entire community on edge.
"Whenever there is an incident such as this, it causes fear in the community. It causes unrest, and that is to be expected," he said.
"The cooperation of the community was paramount in solving this crime. Our investigator worked throughout the Easter weekend to put this all together, and I'm very proud of the work they've done."
Police will not say if there was any anti-religious motive to the two fires.
The 18-year-old man was arrested on March 28, and remains in custody.
The girl appeared before a Justice of the Peace and was released under strict conditions.
With files from the CBC's Bob Keating