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California pastor says innocent in firebombing

  • Associated Press
  • January 14, 2014 - 12:40 PM

VACAVILLE, Calif. — A Northern California pastor arrested on suspicion of firebombing his ex-girlfriend's house with six people inside said he had nothing to do with the attack.

The three other suspects arrested in the case have falsely accused him of being involved, Mark Lewis, pastor of the Fellowship Baptist Church in Vacaville, told KCRA-TV (http://bit.ly/L7G7UZ ) over the weekend. Lewis was expected to be arraigned on Tuesday, The Reporter of Vacaville reported (http://bit.ly/1alwesk).

"They caught the people who did that," the pastor said. "They were just trying to point the finger at me. That's normal. That's normal. It'll come out and be cleared up."

Lewis, 39, was arrested on suspicion of arson of an inhabited dwelling, conspiracy and stalking on Friday, a day after a Molotov cocktail was thrown through his ex-girlfriend's window.

No one was hurt during the firebombing, although police said six people, including three children, were sleeping in the home at the time.

Lewis' ex-girlfriend, Sarah Nottingham, told KCRA that she and Lewis dated for a year.

"He told me he wasn't ready for it to be over, basically threatened me that he had nothing to lose and that he would stop at nothing," Nottingham said.

Lewis has been named as a suspect in four other cases of harassment and vandalism against Nottingham, including a fire in bushes in front of her home, according to police. She had taken out a restraining order against him.

Three other people — Anthony Newbolt, 33, and Richerd Wright, 28, both of Sacramento, and Kristen Broyles, 30, of Citrus Heights — have been charged in the case. They pleaded not guilty on Monday to felony charges of arson of an inhabited structure and possession of flammable or explosive material, according to The Reporter.

Police said a patrol officer responding to the firebombing early Thursday morning spotted a rental car in the area with the three suspects inside. Newbolt and Broyles allegedly told investigators they were homeless and had been staying at the church.

A subsequent search of Lewis' home at the church turned up an illegal handgun, suspected methamphetamine and evidence linking Lewis to the firebombing, police said.

Newbolt told KCRA in a jailhouse interview on Monday evening that Lewis had asked for a Molotov cocktail to be thrown at the home. Broyles said Lewis convinced the three suspects that he was being harassed.

Wright declined an interview request, KCRA reported.

© 2014 Star Tribune