Man charged with setting fire to historic Victory Baptist Church in South LA

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Arson charges have been filed in connection with the fire that destroyed the historic Victory Baptist Church in South Los Angeles last week.

Carlos Francisco Diaz, 23, was arrested Sunday by the Los Angeles School Police Department and charged Tuesday with three counts of arson. He is being held on $225,000 bail.

Diaz is charged with “deliberately, unlawfully and maliciously” setting fire to the church on South McKinley Avenue, according to Los Angeles County district attorney George Gascón.

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Fire destroyed Victory Baptist Church in Los Angeles, arson investigation ongoing.
Los Angeles, CA – September 12: The charred remains of the Victory Baptist Church the day after a fire destroyed the historic church in Los Angeles on Monday, September 12, 2022.

Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images


“A church is a sanctuary, a place of worship, a place to heal and above all a place to come together for the betterment of our community,” Gascón said in a statement. “The fire at the historic Victory Baptist Church has deeply injured our community.”

Victory Baptist Church was established in a storefront in 1943 and moved to its current location at East 48th Street and McKinley Avenue the following year. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was a guest speaker when Victory celebrated his 24th birthday, and the gospel singer Mahalia Jackson once sang there.

The church burned early on September 11, and three firefighters were injured when the building collapsed. The Church leaders and members have sworn to rebuildand while not much could be saved from the charred rubble, a piano and pulpit were recovered and are still usable.

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