Skip to main content

Suspect charged with arson in St. Paul church fire

  • Author:
  • Updated:

The suspect accused of setting fires at a St. Paul church, forcing its congregation to attend services at a nearby funeral home, has been charged.

Gregory Louis Knox, 27, was charged Monday with first- and second-degree arson in connection with the Friday morning fire at St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church.

If he's convicted of both charges, he could face up to 30 years in prison, a $55,000 fine or both.

Knox had turned himself into police Friday afternoon, but has maintained his innocence, reports say.

According to the criminal complaint:

Knox had been coming to the church since July to receive help with apply for jobs, but recently his relationship with the pastor and the church's cook had soured due to thefts.

Knox is believed to have taken things from women's purses and the cook's cellphone. The phone was later returned by a man who said Knox sold it to him. The phone had "selfies" of Knox and text messages believed to have been sent by him.

Knox was told he could no longer come to the church and the pastor told police he was concerned Knox may have been responsible for the fire at the church the morning of Dec. 12.

Knox admitted to police he'd attempted to visit the church the night of Dec. 11, but the cook didn't allow him inside. He told police he was sleeping at the time of the fire.

He voluntarily offered a DNA sample, which will be submitted for testing along with a brick that was recovered from inside the church.

Knox lives near the church and neighbors say they saw him walking towards the church before the fire, as well as walking back to his home after the fire started.

No one was injured in the fire, but it did cause an estimated $100,000 in damage to classrooms and church offices, according to the Pioneer Press.

But the church is coming together and with the help of the community, programing went on as planned this weekend, KSTP notes. Sunday's service along with the children's Christmas program were held at the funeral home across the street.

Many who attended Sunday's program weren't members of the church, but came because the church is very close with the surrounding community, the Pioneer Press reports.

According to the church's website, services on Sunday Dec. 21 will also be held at the funeral home.

The fund to help the church has been set up at BankCherokee. Contributions can be sent to St. Mark Fire Fund, BankCherokee, 607 Smith Ave. S., St. Paul, MN 55107.

Next Up


Gallery: Island cabin is one of northernmost homes for sale in MN

Want to buy one of the northernmost homes on the market in Minnesota?

Screen Shot 2022-09-30 at 4.54.42 PM

Charges: Houston men robbed Edina bank of $110,000

A third suspect has not yet been identified.

Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys coming to Minnesota for 2023 tour

The rock band hasn't gone on tour in the United States since 2019.

Flickr - Menards store front - Mike Kalasnik

Multiple charges over protests after fatal Menards forklift incident

The charges range from trespassing, destruction of property and assault.

Life Link

Boy airlifted after being struck by driver in Elk River

The boy is reportedly a student at Spectrum High School.

Woodbury mn

Fortune's Top 25 places to live for families includes Woodbury

The media outlet says it analyzed 215,000 data points for almost 2,000 cities and towns across the U.S.


Iconic Dangerfield's Restaurant sells, with buyer planning new concept

Dangerfield's Restaurant quietly sold recently after more than 30 years in business.

police lights squad car dark - Unsplash

Charges: Minneapolis shooter photographed 'lifeless' body before fleeing

Charges filed against an accomplice reveal new details about the death of Chante Williams.

Maple grove fire

5 youths are 'persons of interest' in Maple Grove greenhouse fire

Police say it's being investigated as a possible arson.

Dave Hutchinson

Dave Hutchinson has police license suspended for 30 days

The sheriff's suspension will begin on Nov. 22.