A man is in custody after authorities said Friday that he confessed to setting an Independence church on fire.
The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office charged Joseph W. Gazafy, 22, with second-degree arson Friday morning.
According to court documents, Gazafy told Independence paramedics that he set the church on fire because he was "in the mood for a midnight fire," and that he "got his rush."
The Church of Jesus Christ Outreach Restoration Branch suffered extensive damage in the fire, which was spotted about 1:45 a.m. Services won't be held for some time at the church at 723 S. Crysler Ave.
The fire started in the basement kitchen and then spread. A portion of the sanctuary saw some fire damage and significant smoke damage.
Officer Tom Gentry, a spokesman for the Independence Fire Department, said the man called police at 2:35 a.m. to confess to the crime, and officers then arrested him.
Gazafy told an Independence Police Department dispatcher that he set the fire because "he wanted to get his family's attention."
He told police that he broke a window in the church and used gasoline to set the fire. Investigators found glass in Gazafy's shoes. He was treated for an injury to his arm, which police believe he suffered when breaking the window.
He allegedly told a police officer, "Can I be free? I think I should be able to burn down a church," according to court documents.
Larry Hodges, church pastor, told KCTV5 that this is a significant blow, but he is relieved that someone is in custody. The church had insurance and plans to rebuild.
Hodges said Gazafy does not appear to have any connection to the church.
Chari Pedersen, a church member, said the church was founded nearly 15 years ago. She said a significant extension to the building was made in recent years and that mortgage was paid off a couple of months ago.
Pedersen said she became emotional when discussing the fire. She said it's very sad.
"It's a special building to us," she said. "It's where we worship. But it can all be replaced and no one was hurt, so that's the important ting. We'll get it fixed back up."
The congregation has about 150 members.
"We helped build it, literally with our hands. We worked days and it was just hard to see something like that," she said. "Why was it allowed to happen? We don't ever doubt God in that, but that's the hard part."
A number of other churches have offered their facilities for church members to worship in this weekend. Details are still being worked out.
Prosecutors have asked a judge to set a $30,000 bond for Gazafy. Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:20 AM EDT2014-04-23 12:20:28 GMT
The family of a little boy paralyzed after a gas station shooting that killed his father has added a stranger to the ranks of their family because of what she did for the 10-year-old boy. The woman doesn'tMore >
The family of a little boy paralyzed after a gas station shooting that killed his father has added a stranger to the ranks of their family because of what she did for the 10-year-old boy.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:54 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:54:24 GMT
A family is grieving, but shock and loss for words came when hearing the driver that killed at Northland father was drunk, police say. Court records show 20-year-old Joseph C. Surratt, who caused theMore >
A family is grieving, but shock and loss for words came when hearing the driver that killed at Northland father was drunk, police say.More >
Tuesday, April 22 2014 8:47 PM EDT2014-04-23 00:47:34 GMT
A duck with "dangerous propensities" is at the center of a $275,000 lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Clackamas County. It claims the plaintiff, Cynthia Ruddell, stepped out of her motorhomeMore >
The lawsuit claims the duck has a history of attacking people and its owner was negligent for failing to maintain proper control of her animal.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 3:59 PM EDT2014-04-23 19:59:20 GMT
Parents at Children's Mercy Hospitals were greeted Tuesday with a new "No Hit Zone". It's an anti-spanking initiative being practiced in only a handful of hospitals in the country. "We want parents toMore >
Parents at Children's Mercy Hospitals were greeted Tuesday with a new "No Hit Zone". It's an anti-spanking initiative being practiced in only a handful of hospitals in the country.More >
Tuesday, April 22 2014 5:56 PM EDT2014-04-22 21:56:02 GMT
A 45-year-old Kansas City man has died from his injuries after a head-on crash in the Northland.More >
A 45-year-old Kansas City man has died from his injuries after a head-on crash in the Northland. A Lee's Summit man is accused of driving with a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit when he caused the crash. More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:25 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:25:18 GMT
A new airline is going to take off at Kansas City International Airport.Officials have scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. Wednesday to "make a major announcement about new air service" at the airport.More >
A new airline is going to take off at Kansas City International Airport. Spirit Airlines is now allowing passengers to book flights to and from KCI.More >