Cops ID suspect in Toronto church fire

Marc Porlier, 43, was arrested by the OPP Huntsville Detachment at around 2:30 p.m. on Monday.

St. John the Evangelist Church in Toronto was forced to cancel Easter masses Sunday after a fire, which police believe to have been intentionally set, broke out inside in the early morning.

A fire that was deliberately set at an east-end Toronto Roman Catholic church on Easter Sunday morning has left the entire community in shock. A police spokesperson said Porlier is known to police and he has been frequently seen around the area where the church is located in the Weston-Lawrence area.

The church remains closed while police from 12 Division investigate.

"This is such an important day for us", Neil MacCarthy with the Archdiocese of Toronto said Sunday. The church is expected to reopen for mass next weekend.

Father Andrew Maderak said Porlier was a former parishioner at the church.

Police posted photos of the suspect and warned the public not to approach him as they began their search. "This particular building has been here for nearly 65 years, so when this kind of thing happens it cuts to the heart of the community that's been a wonderful contributing community in our city for decades", said Tory, speaking outside the church.

The fire extinguished on its own, he said, but it appeared to have started in the sacristy, where the priest prepares for mass.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the city is standing in solidarity with the parish.

  • Leroy Wright