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Suspect Arrested For Trying To Set Fire To Red Church

Sonora, CA – A man was arrested Friday evening for trying to set the historic St. James Episcopal Church in downtown Sonora on fire.

62-year-old Thomas Layden was taken into custody after allegedly blocking off some of the church’s exits, vandalizing the inside and setting up a device designed to burn down the building. He was captured by members of CAL Fire and the Sonora Police Department.

CAL Fire’s Gordon Winningham says Layden faces charges of attempted arson, burglary and vandalism. Officials say they cannot go into any more specifics at this time.

Layden is a transient who has been living in the Sonora area. His motive is not known. He was arrested around 6:30pm.

Written by bjhansen@mlode.com.