Fire damage (Courtesy FBI)

FBI offers $50K reward in search for arsonist behind Armenian church fire

FBI officials in San Francisco are asking for the public’s help to solve an arson fire that badly damaged an Armenian Church — offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist.

The early morning fire on Sept. 17 at St. Gregory The Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church at 51 Commonwealth Ave. caused extensive damage to the church’s office, library and Sunday school, among other facilities.

Despite the damage, no was injured.

The fire drew outrage from members of the city’s Armenian community and District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who called the act “cowardly” and “hateful.”

“This act of violence was not just an attack on a building, but on a congregation. This was an attack on a community,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Craig Fair said in a statement. “We are counting on members of the community to keep our city safe. Every lead will be thoroughly investigated.”

Separately from the arson, investigators are also looking into two vandalism incidents that have occurred at an Armenian school.

In July, suspects were seen on surveillance video breaking into the Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan Armenian School at 825 Brotherhood Way and vandalizing its walls with graffiti that conveyed anti-Armenian messages. Then, just four days after the Sept. 17 arson, officers found a sign outside the school was riddled with bullet holes. No one was injured in the shooting, police said.

No suspects have been arrested in the two school-related incidents, but the FBI is also asking witnesses or anyone with information on those cases to come forward as well.

Police have classified the arson and the two incidents at the school as hate crimes.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact the FBI’s San Francisco Division at (415) 553-7400 or at https://tips.fbi.gov or the San Francisco Police Department’s anonymous tip line at (415) 575-444 or to text TIP411 with “SFPD” at the start of the message.

Bay Area NewsCrimesan francisco news

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Ali Jamalian, whose life was disrupted in the wake of being charged with possession decades ago, now heads up Sunset Connect, a cannabis manufacturing company. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Green Rush: Cannabis equity program elevates unexpected entrepreneurs

‘It’s a form of reparations for those of us who were ruined by cannabis arrest’

The Giants and Dodgers face each other again following a May series the Dodgers swept; Dodgers shortstop Gavin Lux caught stealing by Giants second baseman Donovan Solano at Oracle Park on May 23 is pictured. 
Chris Victorio/
Special to The Examiner
Giants vs. Dodgers: What you need to know before this week’s huge series

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner That grinding noise you’ll hear… Continue reading

San Francisco supervisors approved zoning changes that will allow a chain grocery store to occupy the bottom floor of the 555 Fulton St. condo building. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Trader Joe’s approved for Hayes Valley, bringing long-awaited grocery store

New Seasons Market canceled plans at 555 Fulton St. citing construction delays

Most Read