Teens Arrested In Waianae Church Arson

Kenny Joseph
Kenny Joseph
Ruben Paet
Ruben Paet
Chopper 8 over the LDS Church in Waianae as firefighters extinguish a blaze September 12
Chopper 8 over the LDS Church in Waianae as firefighters extinguish a blaze September 12

by Paul Drewes

WAIANAE (KHNL) - They're only kids, but they're under arrest for a very serious crime -- setting a Waianae church on fire.

Two thirteen-year-olds are suspected of starting the fire that caused millions of dollars in damage.

And that's not the only crime they're accused of.

All is quiet at the Waianae Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

No meetings. No worship. Two weeks after the huge fire ripped through its buildings.

Broken windows and doors will soon be boarded up, as the congregation waits for repairs to the church building.

Just down the hill from the church, young boys are wrapping up practice for Pop Warner football. Expending their energy in a positive way, because without activities like these, some feel -

"If Waianae kids don't have activities to do, then they're going to get into trouble" says Kenny Joseph, a Waianae coach.

That is not the only message some in Waianae are getting after the arson arrests.

"We're able to send the message out that if you do crimes like this its not just police and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Fire Department that is concerned about that , you mobilize an entire community." says Capt. Frank Fujii, of the Honolulu Police.

The thirteen-year-olds suspected of starting the fire along were also charged along with a twelve year-old for breaking into the church and vandalizing it a week before.

But according to the leader of the church, even after the burglary, they never expected something like this. "The damages from the other break-ins were minor, kids eating candy and throwing paper towels around. For it to escalate to torching, we never expected that. We're just surprised and shocked." says Makakilo Stake President, Ruben Paet.

The fire caused 2.5 million dollars in damage, disrupted a congregation and ruined the feeling of safety the Waianae church provided for its members. But rather than be angry over what has happened, the leader of the church just wants everyone to heal.