OGDEN — An 18-year-old is in jail after police accused him of causing a fire in an Ogden church and causing further damage to the building.
Michael Donovan Averett, 18, is being held in jail on charges of arson with property damages exceeding $5,000 and criminal mischief with a loss greater than $5,000, both second-degree felonies. Averett is also being held on one count of burglary, a third-degree felony.
On Friday, June 28, two maintenance workers arrived at a church located at 550 E. 900 North in Ogden. The building belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to court documents.
One maintenance worker found damaged water pipes in the building, while the other worker found a glass door that had been “completely shattered” at some point during the prior night. A police officer was present and assisted the two workers as they sealed the building. While this was happening, one of the maintenance workers reportedly heard “items being broken inside,” according to charging documents.
When the officer went to investigate, he found two males inside the church who said they were “exploring” the church. One was identified as a juvenile, the other was identified as Averett. After police took down their information, the two were allowed to leave.
Later as the maintenance workers were walking through the church, they noticed the smell of smoke and later found a toy box that was engulfed with flames. Fire crews were dispatched to the church around 10:35 a.m., according to a press release from the Ogden Fire Department.
No injuries have been reported in connection to the fire. A total of 20 firefighters from the Ogden Fire Department and the Weber Fire District responded to the scene.
While initially investigators estimated the damages to be around $40,000, charging documents indicate the damages to the church to be around $300,000.
Investigators from the OFD Fire Marshal and the ATF determined the flames were due to an incendiary fire, according to the charging documents.
ATF agents and local police were later able to track down Averett and the juvenile in the Salt Lake City area. The two were interviewed at the Sandy Police Department, where Averett allegedly admitted to breaking “multiple fixtures and windows in the church,” according to the affidavit. Averett allegedly admitted to starting fires in multiple areas of the church, including one that he allegedly said he started with an aerosol can, paper and a lighter.
Averett was booked into the Weber County Jail around 1 a.m. Saturday morning, according to booking reports. He is being held in lieu of a $25,000 bond amount.
As of Monday morning, he has yet to be formally charged in Ogden’s 2nd District Court. He does not have an attorney listed in online court documents.