California man charged with a hate crime following church building fire

Churh fire set by a man deputies say was targeting the church in the Santa Maria Area of Santa Barbara County, California, Aug. 23, 2019. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office)

A 19-year-old from California was arrested Friday for suspicion of arson, vandalism and hate crimes.  Police Charged Gage Rowdy Tuttle following a fire at Winepress Church in Orcutt, Ca.

Deputies with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office responded along with the local fire department Aug. 23 after the fire was reported. Edhat Santa Barbara reports heavy smoke was rising from a building behind the main church buildings when deputies arrived. The media outlet also reported that deputies determined, “the act of starting the fire was directed against the church.”

A news release from the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office says Santa Barbara County Fire personnel were successful in containing the fire to a storage shed before it could spread to the main church or other nearby residences.  The press release says Santa Barbara County Fire arson investigators will investigate the specifics of how the fire was started.

Jail records on Sept. 1 show Tuttle remains held on $105,000 bond.