ARIZONA NEWS

Man charged with hate crimes related to burning of two historic Arizona churches

Oct 8, 2023, 6:30 AM

An Arizona man was indicted on hate crimes Thursday after he was accused of burning down two histor...

An Arizona man was indicted on hate crimes Thursday after he was accused of burning down two historic churches. (Pexels photo).

(Pexels photo)

PHOENIX — An Arizona man was indicted on hate crimes Thursday after he was accused of burning down two historic churches, authorities said.

The indictment alleges that Eric Ridenour, 58, of Tucson, burned down Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church and First Presbyterian Church on May 22. Both churches are more than 100 years old and located on Church Square, in a historic district in the border town of Douglas, approximately two hours southeast of Tucson.

Ridenour intentionally started the fires in both churches because of his sexist and homophobic motives, according to the indictment. The churches have women and members of the LGBTQ community serving as church leaders.

Ridenour was arrested on May 23 and charged by complaint with maliciously damaging or destroying both buildings by means of fire. On June 22, he was initially indicted on two counts of the same.

Ridenour is being charged for arson of property used in interstate commerce, obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs by fire and using fire to commit federal felony.

If convicted, Ridenour could face a lengthy prison sentence with overlapping terms.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Church Square is the only block in the nation containing churches from four different denominations: Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal and Methodist.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

UoA student convicted of first-degree murder after killing professor...

Associated Press

Former Arizona grad student convicted of first-degree murder in 2022 shooting of professor

A former University of Arizona grad student was convicted of first-degree murder after fatally shooting a professor on campus two years ago.

3 hours ago

(Yavapai County Sheriff's Office Photo)...

KTAR.com

Elderly woman presumed dead in northern Arizona after reporting her house on fire

An elderly woman was believed to have been found dead in her northern Arizona home after she had reported that it caught fire on Saturday.

4 hours ago

fall off Gilbert multi-story parking garage...

KTAR.com

19-year-old dies after falling from Gilbert parking garage, police say

Police said 19-year-old Mubasher Masood died after falling off the top of a Gilbert multi-story parking garage.

5 hours ago

Gas prices are on the decline in Arizona. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)...

Danny Shapiro

Arizona gas prices on the fall heading into Memorial Day weekend

Arizona drivers will get the benefit of decreasing gas prices heading into Memorial Day weekend.

7 hours ago

Surprise man killed his two children in murder-suicide, police say...

Serena O'Sullivan

Surprise father killed his 2 children in murder-suicide, police say

A Surprise man killed his two children in an apparent murder-suicide on May 20, 2024, according to police.

7 hours ago

Follow @KTAR923...

Sponsored Content by Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Man charged with hate crimes related to burning of two historic Arizona churches