Calgary

Police release images of man believed to have information related to Calgary church fire

Calgary police are asking for help identifying a man believed to have information related to an arson that occurred at a church in the city's southeast last summer.

House of Prayer Alliance Church suffered significant damage in July arson case, police said

Police are hoping to identify a man described as being unshaven with tattoos on his hands, and who was wearing a black jacket, black pants and grey fingerless gloves. (Calgary Police Service)

Calgary police are asking for help identifying a man believed to have information related to an arson that occurred at a church in the city's southeast last summer.

The fire department responded to multiple calls reporting a fire at the House of Prayer Alliance Church, located at 4924 Forego Ave. S.E., around 7:20 p.m. on July 4.

At the time, Battalion Chief Keith Stahl said crews found smoke and heavy flame that they were able to extinguish, and determined that no one was inside.

He said the fire was mostly confined to the outside of the building with some exterior burn-through.

The exterior of the House of Prayer Alliance Church in July. Calgary police said a fire caused in damage to the exterior, and small fires and smoke damage inside. (Mike Symington/CBC)

In a press release Thursday, police said the building suffered significant damage.

After reviewing CCTV footage and interviewing witnesses, they are hoping to identify a man described as being unshaven with tattoos on his hands, and who was wearing a black jacket, black pants and grey fingerless gloves.

The incident occurred as churches in Calgary, as well as across the province and country, were torched or defaced in a wave of vandalism that has occurred since several First Nations reported finding unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools. 

However, police said Thursday they have determined the church fire is unrelated to those incidents.

The church's pastor, Thai Nguyen, told CBC News in July that the fire made him sad and worried.

"I don't know who [did] that, I don't know what happened," Nguyen said.

"I feel sad. I'm not very happy because, you know, we are … from Vietnam, refugees. We come here looking for a new life, with a new church here. We think that we are in [a] good country … but I think that we have to be more careful."

Those with information are asked to contact police by calling 403-266-1234.

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