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Montgomery County DA urges bond increase for church arson suspect

DA says ‘current bail amount is woefully inadequate’
Auburn woman charged in FBC Montgomery arson.
Auburn woman charged in FBC Montgomery arson.((Source: Montgomery County Detention Facility))
Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 11:01 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2021 at 4:40 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey has filed a motion seeking to increase the bail amount for an arson suspect charged with setting multiple fires inside the historic First Baptist Church Montgomery.

Xiaoquin Yan, 27, charged with second-degree arson, is being held on a $30,000 bond at the Montgomery County Detention Facility, but Bailey says that amount is too low.

The motion states that Yan, a resident of Auburn, is a Chinese citizen who is in the United States on a student visa, which Bailey says has been revoked.

“She is therefore in the country illegally,” Bailey’s motion states, adding “the current bail amount is woefully inadequate to secure her presence in court given her strong ties to an overseas country.”

An arrest affidavit indicates Yan was identified as the suspect after video footage of the incident was observed and the description of the suspect in the video fit Yan’s description. The affidavit also indicates the fire was caused by an open flame that was used to “ignite an ignitable liquid.”

A motive for the fire was not listed in court records.

The church shared the news Thursday morning with a social media post that included a picture of the sanctuary still blanketed in a smoky haze.

First Baptist Church’s lead pastor, Mark L. Bethea, said four blazes were set inside the main sanctuary, in the historic Stakely Sanctuary and in some of the church’s office spaces.

Bethea said the fires had varying degrees of success. The reception office was destroyed.

Court records say the fire caused $25,000 worth of damage. However, with repair work and clean-up efforts still ongoing, the monetary figure should be considered preliminary and may ultimately end up being considerably higher.

Because of the damage, worshipers held church service on Sunday in the Scott Street Parking deck, located directly across from the century-old church. Bethea says they will have one Sunday service beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday in the parking lot across from the church. If it rains, service will held at the train shed near Embassy Suites.

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