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Deputies arrest alleged arsonist accused of starting devastating Hacienda Heights church fire


Gregory Yusuke Shiga

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department announced the arrest this week of a man suspected of setting fire to a Catholic church in Hacienda Heights last year, completely destroying the beloved structure.

Gregory Yusuke Shiga, a 34-year-old parolee, was arrested Monday on charges of causing the fire one year ago at St. John Vianney Catholic Church. The early morning blaze on April 16, 2011 burned for two and a half hours and gutted the church, causing $6.5 million in damages.

Authorities immediately announced they believed it was caused by arson, but a suspect had not been identified until now.

Shiga is accused of breaking into the church's sanctuary just after midnight and deliberately setting the blaze. He faces charges including arson, burglary and possession of flammable material and could get 10 years to life in prison if convicted, according to the Sheriff’s Department. He is being held on $1 million bail pending arraignment on May 30.