KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Police arrested a suspect Thursday afternoon for allegedly setting fire to a Kansas City, Missouri, church.
What started out as an early Wednesday security alert for one church in the Kansas City metro quickly turned into a night of uncertainty.
It was quickly discovered the ministry had been set on fire. And it was all caught on surveillance video.
“We booted up our security cameras and we were surprised to see what we found,” said Minister Michael Higgins, of Beyond Thee Four Walls Outreach Ministry.
In that footage, a man can be seen lighting the ministry, located at 5910 E. U.S. 40., on fire around 3 a.m. on Wednesday.
“To see that, it was like kind of heart wrenching,” Administrative Assistant Liz Williams said. “This is a great ministry. It serves the community. Our pastor is a loving pastor. We welcome people in, we go out and we assist people. So to see this, it’s just been one of the things that I don’t understand.”
No one from the ministry has recognized the man in the video or understands why he would target their ministry.
“We genuinely try to bring a light to a dark and dying world you know?" Higgins said. "We give hope to guys who might seem like the time is hopeless around here, so I mean, like she said, it’s a great ministry."
The damage in pictures barely scratches the surface of what transpired overnight. Nearly a dozen bags filled with clothes that would’ve been for women and children in need, those experiencing homelessness or anyone who needed something to wear to work, were destroyed.
But despite the mass water and smoke damage, Higgins and Williams said they are not mad.
“God forgives us and we have to be forgiving also," Higgins said. "So, you know, we might be angry at the act, but not at the individual. We’re going to pray for him.”
Williams said they want the man to know "God loves him in spite of whatever the circumstances" are.
As for their circumstance, charred remains might be all that is physically left of the site, but the desire to forgive and continue serving is now stronger than ever.
“I don’t know what it means for our ministry, but I think it will grow us stronger," Williams said, "and it will also give us more compassion for people because something's wrong with that young man and we need to just pray for him."
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Beyond Thee Four Walls.
Surveillance video captured images of the man accused of setting the fire.
For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at P3Tips.com.
Annual homicide details and data for the Kansas City area are available through the 41 Action News Homicide Tracker, which was launched in 2015.