New Britain

Person Faces Charges After Fires at New Britain Houses of Worship

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A person is facing charges after fires at two houses of worship in New Britain on Friday night.

Crews first responded to 76 Winter St. to a synagogue called Congregation Tephereth Israel at about 8 p.m.

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Crews battle a fire at Congregation Tephereth Israel in New Britain.

"The damage is pretty extensive, but thankfully the New Britain Fire Department showed up quickly and was able to knock it down," Stewart said.

Shortly after, firefighters received a report of a second fire at 99 Franklin Square, which is Saint Matthew Lutheran Church.

Stewart said this fire was much smaller than the one on Winter Street. No one was inside at the time of the fires and there are no injuries.

Two fires at houses of worship in New Britain are believed to be intentionally set and connected, according to Mayor Erin Stewart.

About 20 minutes after crews were called to the fire on Franklin Square, they were notified of a burglary that happened at a third church on South Main Street.

Stewart said the church is a few feet away from Saint Matthew Lutheran Church, where the second fire happened.

On Saturday morning, officials said police have a suspect in custody. Kimorah Parker, 30, faces arson and burglary charges in connection to Friday night's events, according to police.

"In my opinion, I think there's no doubt that these incidents are connected. This is just too coincidental to not believe that but obviously the professionals are going to do the investigations and they'll see what they can find," Stewart said.

"But this is definitely alarming. We never hear of situations like this where churches are targeted so it certainly has our backs up," she continued.

Parker appeared before the court Monday by video conference and is being held on suicide watch and the court requested a mental health evaluation.

The next court date has been set for March 28.

There was an increased police presence on Sunday to make sure people feel safe attending services, according to Stewart.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is working with Connecticut State Police and New Britain police to investigate the incidents.

"Local police have a suspect well-known to them and retain the lead over the ongoing investigations," the FBI said.

FBI officials reiterated that no other incidents have been reported since the arrest.

"The FBI will continue to coordinate with local law enforcement and, pending further evidence collection, will determine whether federal charges are appropriate," they said. "The FBI is unaware of any specific, credible threat to the religious community stemming from these incidents."

Both fires are under investigation by the Fire Marshal's Office.

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