Reports: California pastor arrested on suspicion of arson

Pastor Mark Lewis
CBS Sacramento

VACAVILLE, Calif. - A Northern California pastor was arrested Friday on suspicion of arson in a fire at a home that authorities say was sparked by a Molotov cocktail.

The Reporter of Vacaville reports 39-year-old Mark Lewis, pastor of the Fellowship Baptist Church in Vacaville, was being held at the Solano County Jail on suspicion of arson on an inhabited dwelling, conspiracy and stalking. He was arrested Friday, a day after the attack, but CBS Sacramento reports he posted bail and was released Saturday.

Three other people also were arrested in the alleged firebombing. Six people were sleeping inside the home at the time, but no one was hurt.

 According to CBS Sacramento, the three others arrested were homeless people whom Lewis is accused of paying to firebomb the home.

A motive was unclear, although the station reports one of the occupants of the home, Lewis’ ex-girlfriend, Sarah Nottingham, had a restraining order against Lewis.

Nottingham reportedly claims the pastor vandalized her car and set fire to her bushes following their breakup last year. The restraining order against the pastor was reportedly served Jan. 5.

“I’m living in a nightmare. My kids are so scared. My son knows that this is his previous pastor that is threatening his mommy and his family,” said Nottingham.

Lewis reportedly told CBS Sacramento he heard nothing about the firebombing accusations and denied any involvement.

“It’s easy to put it on me, to pin it on me if someone is putting the finger there. And of course, I think the police have an agenda also,” said Lewis.

It is unclear whether Lewis has an attorney. A phone listing for the church was disconnected.