Watch CBS News

Colorado investigators search for arsonist who burned part of Aurora church

Colorado investigators search for arsonist who burned part of Aurora church
Colorado investigators search for arsonist who burned part of Aurora church 02:11

Aurora Fire Rescue is investigating an arson incident that damaged part of Aurora First Presbyterian Church. The fire broke out in the building near Colfax Avenue and Kingston Street on the morning of March 28, the eve of Good Friday.

The church is home to several ministries, including Living Water Christian Center. LWCC Pastor Thomas Mayes' office suffered the most damage.

"The fire was so intense that if something didn't burn, it melted," said Mayes. "It's an old building. There's asbestos in the flooring. As long as they still detect asbestos in the air, we can't go in there."


Decades of memories and office materials were destroyed.

Crews were able to contain the blaze before it could spread, but there was smoke damage throughout the church. Fans are still running to reduce the odor. 

Members of the congregation with respiratory issues are staying home or wearing masks to the service.

Mayes was informed by AFR that surveillance video shows a Molotov cocktail being thrown through a window. Arson dogs detected an accelerant in the investigation.

"We were wondering, did we leave something on? Did we have a space heater? What could have caused it?" asked Mayes. "You do all the good you can, and then something like this happens. And to think someone may have done it intentionally."

Mayes says LWCC has a predominantly Black congregation. He's not sure if they were targeted for race or faith. It wouldn't be the first time arson was used to cripple a church community.

"I feel like in 2016, this spirit of violence was unleashed. A lot of people who would never have done something like that feel justified in doing those types of things," said Mayes. "Even on Easter Sunday, we didn't just pray for the situation and for the trauma that we felt. We prayed for the people who did this. Because they need help."

AFR has not released any suspect information. Investigators are interviewing witnesses and formulating a hypothesis related to the fire's origin and cause.


In that moment of evil, Mayes says he believes God was there. On the scorched wall, a message survived the flames – "Love Never Fails."

"People may call me crazy, but I feel like God is saying to me, love never fails. So this is not a failure," said Mayes. "This is just something that causes us to move forward."

Anyone with information on the fire should contact AFR Investigations at 303-326-8953.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.