San Francisco Armenian church leaders suspect arson in fire that damaged Sunday school classrooms, offices

ByJ.R. Stone and Adam Goldstein KGO logo
Monday, September 21, 2020
Arson suspected in early morning SF church fire, officials say
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The board of trustees at St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church in San Francisco say arsonists are responsible for an early morning fire Thursday that destroyed three parts of the church property.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- An arson investigation is underway at an Armenian church in San Francisco Thursday.

The leaders of St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church posted on Facebook that the building adjacent to the main church in Laurel Heights was set ablaze by arsonists at around 4 a.m.

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"I can't feel safe right now because of what I've seen I mean I was in tears when I came this morning it's awful. Everything my desk is gone!" said Seta Tchakerian who has worked inside the building for 15 years. Pictures of her late husband were lost in the fire.

"The building housed Vasbouragan Hall, as well as offices for St. Gregory Armenian Church and various organizations," the church board of trustees said in a statement. "The San Francisco Fire Department responded immediately, however, the building has suffered a great loss."

Armenian community leaders say the fire was set in three separate locations in the building: Sunday School classrooms, the church office and in the Hamazkayin Library.

This follows an attack on the Krouzian-Zekarian Vasbouragan Armenian School and the adjacent community center in July.

"We think that there are people that don't like the Armenians and somehow through their hate this is the way they take their revenge," says church chairman Rostom Aintablian. Aintablian went on to say that the church is offering a 25-thousand dollar reward to anyone with information that will help catch and convict a person who may have been involved in starting the fire.

"There is no room for this cowardly, hateful, criminal act in San Francisco," said San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin on Twitter. "We stand with the Armenian community against hate."

The church has set up a GoFundMe page to assist in the recovery efforts.

Stay tuned for more updates on this story on ABC7 News at 11 p.m.