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LAPD releases video of suspect in arson case at Mormon Temple in Westwood

Los Angeles police Wednesday released video footage of a suspect caught on tape in May as he allegedly tried to set fire to a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The suspect, carrying a backpack of combustible material and a thermos cup, walked onto church property at 10777 Santa Monica Blvd. on May 17 and tried to enter a locked door, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

The man was unable to get inside the Westwood temple. Three hours later, a suspicious fire broke out in the church's garden area, according to the LAPD.

The video footage shows a man with a backpack walking up to a  door at the temple. The LAPD did not say how it obtained the footage or how it was shot.

The suspect appeared to be in his late 20s, police said, and was wearing a red T-shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at the Major Crime Division at (213) 486-7260.

-- Robert J. Lopez

Video: Suspect in arson case. Credit: LAPD

Comments () | Archives (77)

Why are the police getting involved? Wouldn't that be a violation of the First Amendment prohibition against establishment? Police involvement would be fostering an excessive entanglement between government and religion.

Is the Mormon Church paying taxes in order to support the police? Of course not, they're a religious institution. So again: why are the police involved?

What do you think the chances are that this is a gay rights "activist" who has been influenced by the constant media feeding frenzy of the gay rights movement against the Mormon church?

Backlash for prop 8 or just an anti-Mormon bigot?

I noticed how the suspect suddlenly ducked slightly, like a deer in headlights, as he looked at the door and walked away. He continued to glance back at the doors. There are always men in white suits just inside the doors of the Mormon temples, primarily to check church issued ID, and direct visitors. They're also aware that enemies may try to enter, though that is extremely rare. This man looks instantly out of place outside of the temple, because the dress code there for men, is at least a white shirt and tie, with dress pants and dress shoes. Nice try.

What? This guy looks as relaxed as any normal person walking the streets. How the hell do you know what is in his backpack. A thermos of coffee, the paper and a bag are like the most common items people carry these days. He didn't try to get in any locked door. He glanced... He didn't even reach out to see if it was open. Man you guys must be bored...

I'll bet he was a Mormon at one time.

Prop 8 backlash or just run of the mill anti-Mormonism?


It sounds to me like there are Mormons on the police force framing anyone possible as a suspect because the Mormon church is trying to gain sympathy from the public after the despicable acts of its followers beating Prop 8 protesters. A group of Mormons broke this one woman's nose as she was holding a sign. How come Mormons didn't go to jail for that?

Chris, authorities state that the man is suspect. They haven't passed judgement on him, yet. You seem very upset about the fact that they want to get this guy to come in and ask him a few questions. Are you this man? Is this man your friend? Not sure why you're so upset over this. If he's innocent, then nothing will happen to him.

An obvious hate crime according to what is described by law.
Or does it qualify for enforcement when applied only to select groups favored by the ruling administration?

Enemies???? LOL wow I feel like I'm back in Utah after Leslie's comment. This was not a random guy walking across the frame, the camera was following him. I think it would be safe to say they know full well who he is otherwise why on earth would someone intentionally video tape a random guy walking down the street??? Leave prop 8 out of this, my god you Mormons really now how to be dramatic and play the victim well when it suits you, yet you past and present behavior shows different. Signed, Raised in Utah and NOT proud of it

I don't see the connection to this guy with seemingly normal items, acting incredible casual, and a fire that breaks out THREE HOURS LATER!

The Mormons must have their best scooby doo detectives on this one.

Could it be that the whole thing is an attempt by the Mormons seem as if they are under attack? I am not buying it.

the only thing suspicious about the video is that the camera is just following him

@blothe the police are involved because arson is a crime and would you be suspicious if someone came to your home or business place and try to break in and after they stop trying to get in a fire mysteriously breaks out in your yard

Anyone that wears magic underwear is automaticly suspect. :p

its funny how none of your guys know whats in the temple or what to do in it or even how to get in..
its not that easy to get in.....

The reputation of the LDS church has taken a big hit during the past year as facts concerning their decades-long campaign to stigmatize and marginalize homosexuals in this country have been revealed. What better way to gain the sympathy from the average citizen than to provide "evidence" of a physical attack against their church? I believe that this "crime" was a PR setup engineered by the Mormon Church to deflect criticism of their political agenda. Why would they think this guy was responsible for a fire that started THREE HOURS later? How did they know his backpack contained combustible materials? Everyone really needs to ask themselves exactly how was this film shot, and then you will have a better insight into what is going on here. Finally, if the LDS church was able to provide this video, why don't they have a video of the guy setting the fire on their grounds? The answer is simple, the guy(s) who set the fire were wearing white dress shirts.

Temples are generally closed on Sunday and Monday and according to the article this took place on a Monday.

For those not familiar with this temple, the front door this man approached opens automatically when you step on the mat in front of it. He apparently knew this and that is why he did not to try to open by pulling on the handles. He was trying to enter the building though.

The other strange thing is the thermos. It could be holding anything, but Mormons don't drink coffee, so somewhat strange at first glance.

Again, not saying the guy is guilty, but it is understandable why the police would want to at least question him.

If the guy is innocent, he should contact LAPD and get the matter cleared up. I would not want my face on a video that indicated I was about to cause trouble... if it was untrue.

The Mormon Temple represents a sacred place of worship and also the police should investigate ANY possible lead of this suspicious fire.

Based on your comments Jewish Temples, Catholic Churches, and other places or worship have no right to call the police should there be a need for assistance; since most hold a 501 status.

That is almost as dumb as saying that any person that owes taxes should have thier rights to call the police or fire department if they have an emergency.

So this city is bankrupt, people struggling to find jobs, and keep from the tax man what little they're able to earn, and this guy has the time to cause this kind of chaos? Why is it that California seems to be cursed with more of these idiots than any other state?

why is the camera following him? something is not right with this video.

I know some people don't like "Big Love," but can you please restrict yourselves to blogging, emails, letters, etc.?

There's a constant media feeding frenzy of the gay rights movement against the Mormon church?

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