Riviera Beach man charged with arson in fire at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church

| October 1, 2009

Facing hard financial times, the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Riviera Beach recently dropped its fire insurance, hoping it wouldn’t need it.

On Tuesday night, a deliberately-set fire caused $75,000 to the church.

A 25-year old Riviera Beach man has confessed to setting the blaze and to burglarizing the church last week, according to reports.

Roderick Ugene Walker is charged with second-degree arson, burglary and larceny.

This morning, Judge Ted S. Booras ordered Walker held in lieu of $58,000 bail.

Assistant State Attorney Lisa Satcher told the judge that Walker has out of state arrests and at least two Florida felony convictions.

Walker himself called in the fire at the church, at 1136 36 St., around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday and was still outside when police arrived, reports show.

According to a Riviera Beach Police report, on Monday night, Walker had confessed to Riviera Beach police that he broke a southeast window on Friday night and stole a DVD player from a shelf in the pastor’s office.

At the time, police were unable to contact the pastor and so released Walker, the Riviera Beach report said.

Five minutes later, the report said, Pastor David Chandler arrived at Riviera Beach police headquarters.

He said he’d give Walker a chance to return the player and if he didn’t, the pastor would press charges.

About 11:45 p.m. the next night, Tuesday, Walker himself called police to report the fire at the church and was outside when they arrived, the report said.

It said the pastor arrived soon after and said he would press charges on the DVD theft.

According to reports from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office and the state fire marshal’s office, investigators found three different places where fires had been set using matches on clothing.

Walker told investigators he entered the church through a south window, then lit clothes in a closet near the women’s restroom, lit a robe in the pastor’s office, and lit a cloth at the altar.





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Category: Church Security

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