Yuma man faces arson charge in Phoenix church fire

Posted: Updated:
Marcellus Dontae Mais (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Marcellus Dontae Mais (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Marcellus Dontae Mais attended his initial court appearance Jan. 30, 2017. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Marcellus Dontae Mais attended his initial court appearance Jan. 30, 2017. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
A fire broke out at the Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Phoenix on Jan. 27, 2017. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A fire broke out at the Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Phoenix on Jan. 27, 2017. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The church sustained severe damage to the front entry.(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The church sustained severe damage to the front entry.(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
It could take months to repair the damage to the church. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) It could take months to repair the damage to the church. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A man accused of setting fire to a historic Phoenix church faces arson and criminal damage charges.

Firefighters put out the fire at Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church around 9 p.m. Friday.

Later that night, Marcellus Dontae Mais, 29, of Yuma, approached police at the scene and claimed responsibility. Police reportedly found two lighters in his pocket.

During questioning, Mais told police that he broke a window above the door of the church and threw in a bottle with lighter fluid and a rag that he had lit on fire, according to court documents.

Mais was charged with arson of a structure and aggravated criminal damage of a place of worship, both felonies.

He is being held on a $25,000 secured appearance bond. His next court date is scheduled for Feb. 3.

[VIDEO: Watch his initial court appearance]

No one was hurt in the fire, but the church, which is located near Jefferson and Seventh streets, sustained severe damage to the front entry.

The church was established during the pioneer days and is the oldest African American church in Arizona.

On Dec. 15, 2010, the Phoenix City Council voted to approve Tanner as a designated historic landmark. The chapel is one of the only 14 properties in Phoenix to receive landmark status.

The congregation held a prayer gathering in the parking lot on Sunday. Church leaders will have to figure out where future services will be held until repairs can be done.

[RELATED: Arrest made after fire breaks out in lobby of historic Phoenix church]

[RELATED: Congregation gathers after church fire]

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


  • Social Connect

  • Contact

    AZ Family