UPDATED 5 p.m., Saturday, February 25, 2012: Gwinnett Fire and Emergency Services issues press statement regarding arrest. Officials say Stone admitted to burglarizing and setting fire to Zoar UMC. See additions below.
UPDATED 4 p.m., Saturday, February 25, 2012: See update from Major John Strickland regarding an arson warrant below.
David Stone, of Snellville, has been arrested and charged in connection with a
Major John Strickland, commander of the south precinct of the Gwinnett County Police Department, notified Patch of Stone's arrest.
Although Stone was not initially charged with arson, Strickland described him as "the arson suspect."
He was booked into jail at 3:16 a.m., according to police records.
Stone's charges are as follows:
- Theft by shoplifting
- Violation of probation
- Criminal damage to property, second degree (two counts)
- Burglary (two counts)
Strickland later explained that police believe Stone burglarized, vandalized and shoplifted from multiple locations during the same evening as the Zoar UMC arson. The church fire was reported about 12:20 a.m on Friday morning.
"As a result, multiple warrants were obtained," Strickland said in an email late Saturday morning. "Since he is being held with no bond, arson investigators assumed their part of the investigation this morning."
In a press statement sent Saturday afternoon, Capt. Tommy Rutledge of Gwinnett Fire and Emergency Services said that "aggressive coverage by the news media and tips from the general public" enabled police to locate Stone.
"Stone admitted to unlawfully entering the church and setting the fire, during an interview with fire investigators," Rutledge said.
Additional charges expected are first-degree arson and burglary, specifically related to the Zoar UMC incident, fire officials said.
Stone currently is being held at Gwinnett County Detention Center. Most of his initial charges carry no bond amount.
Rutledge added, "The Fire Department takes the crime of arson serious and we are fortunate to have made an arrest so quickly."
Snellville Patch will follow up when additional information is available regarding the suspect and this case.