Man arrested in church arson released without charges

| November 26, 2009

OTTAWA — A Gatineau man arrested in connection with a fire that destroyed Aylmer's historic St. Paul Roman Catholic Church was released without charge at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Gatineau police said they seized items from the man, who is in his 50s, when he was arrested Wednesday morning in Aylmer. The items have been sent to Montreal for analysis, police said, but they would not provide further details.

Police also executed a search warrant at the man's home Wednesday.

The fire tore through the landmark church on June 11, causing about $25 million in damage. Only a few blackened stone walls remained standing after flames broke out around 1:15 a.m.

Investigators later found evidence of a break and enter and an abandoned gas can near the church. A witness helped police create a composite picture of a man seen in parking lot of the Eardley Road church a half-hour before the blaze started.

A spokesman for the church said it is unlikely to be rebuilt on its original site because it would be too costly.

Only some parts of the stone walls are standing and Richard Bégin said the federal and provincial governments are unlikely to provide enough money to rebuild the church. The congregation is considering the construction of a modern multi-purpose building if it receives support from the city's business community. Church officials are to announce next Monday what the congregation hopes to do with the site. For now, the parish is holding masses at the monastery building at 161 Rue Principale.

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Category: Church Security

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