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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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11/14/2012 9:45:00 PM
Police: Man charged with arson after setting fire at church
Lisa Irish
The Daily Courier

Prescott police arrested a man who told an officer that he broke into the Potters House, destroyed a camera, poured gasoline on the carpet, and lit it on fire early Wednesday morning, Prescott Police Sgt. Tim Fletcher said.

An officer booked Matthew Hepburn, 22, of Prescott into the Yavapai County Jail Wednesday morning on felony charges of arson, burglary, aggravated criminal damage, child abuse, and misdemeanor charges of criminal damage and hit and run.

At 12:30 a.m., Prescott police received a call about a burglary in progress at the church in the 5100 block of Highway 89 after an alarm went off.

A church employee received a call about the alarm, went to the church, found a broken window, saw a 2006 gray Toyota four-door sedan driving away from the back of the property onto Larry Caldwell Drive, and called 911, Fletcher said.

The car was found high-centered on a berm near Hole in One and Larry Caldwell drives, Fletcher said.

A 14-month-old child was found in the car, but the child was unharmed, Fletcher said.

"Hepburn later tried to report his vehicle stolen," Fletcher said. "When contacted, it was revealed that he was mad at the church."

Hepburn told the officer that he broke a window at the church, broke a camera, then dumped gasoline on the carpet, and set it on fire, Fletcher said.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Article comment by: German Shepherd

I just don't understand why he had to break a camera. The poor thing, so defenseless against a human. And did they question the 14-month-old? They're always the guilty ones.

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: late to read article

I just read this article and the following posts and all I can say is endangering a child, setting fire to a church...and yet people are defending him? The church may not be the darling of the community, but really folks? Check your hearts people.. little podunk Prescott is in peril if this sort of thing can go on without serious condemnation from the community in general. We should ALL be grievously appalled.

Posted: Saturday, November 17, 2012
Article comment by: josie anna

All the potter's house attendee's would rather stand up for their church and tell us how great it is and how stupid we are for saying how not great it is,,,,,than tell us to pray for this troubled young man. Just saying. I'm definitely going their for worship this sunday!

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012
Article comment by: Matt Smith

Really fast @ Free Will. REAL courageous calling people liars when you won't put your real name down. Kudos. This exact thing happend to me, SEVERAL times. So either you are ignorant, or a member trying to save face. Quit it.

Now then. Matts decision was not a good one, clearly. But please don't assume right off the bat he is a bad person or disturbed or any other wild things that pop into your heads. I am not saying he was justified, but he is a good person, and has always had a bright future. He made a mistake, granted a big one, but a mistake all the same. You don't know him, and its not your place to judge him, double so if you belong to a religion. And also @ Getting a Young Start: The draft?! Go back to 1950 where your ridiculous ideals belong.

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012
Article comment by: The Man

The final word in all this mayhem is the young man still has hope. I am sure that even the Potterís House people would believe that his and all of our hope is in the simple Gospel. That is, for all of us God gave His only Son Jesus Christ as the payment for our sins. Through that gift all of us even Mr. Hepburn can have the forgiveness Christís blood purchased for us on that rugged cross on Golgothaís hill (aka Calvary). All anyone has to do is see how we are living is wrong, and ask a just and forgiving God to apply the sacrifice His Sons made for sin to our individual lives. His answer is always YES. Whether or not the young man (Mr. Hepburn) has a valid reason to break the law in your eyes or in own eyes, one thing will never change. Till our last breath we can cry out to God and be born again by the power of the blood of Jesus. If I may add, we live in a nation that has fundamentally changed over the years, especially in the area of open religious belief. We must not stop expressing our core beliefs even if it hurts someoneís feelings or rubs them the wrong way or goes out of their way to burn down our place of worship. Jesus is the way the trust and the life. Live for your King not your political leaders.

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012
Article comment by: Getting A Young Sart

Sad to know that at only 22 years old, this young man already has a record and is on the wrong path of life. What is happening to our country's youth today. No morals or responsibilities or just plain arrogance? Bring the draft back and give this generation something to do besides getting into trouble.

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012
Article comment by: things that make ya go... hmmmmm.........

well, he had something against the "church"...... and apparently it was VERY personal, and if its that personal, something happened. Nobody does this over "rumors".... he had his reason and it WILL come out!!!

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012
Article comment by: dog on

Judging by some of the responses here, it might help if they could pass around some textbooks once in awhile also.

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012
Article comment by: Free Will

Oh my goodness. What is wrong with ALL you people? Stop the blame game here. Blaming the church for "making" you do this or making you do that.
You have a free will and a choice. YOU made the choice to go to the church, YOU made the choice to go to the Underground. The church didn't MAKE you do this or MAKE you do that. It's your own free will.
No one MAKES us do anything. We do what we do cause we have a free will.

@ Josh Clarke your a liar. The doors at the underground are never close always open for people on the streets to hear the music!

@Joel Rifkin the Potters House people won't be judged differently then you or anyone else.
What makes you think your sin is better then theres?
At least they try to save people. What are you doing to make life better for other people? Yeah, that's what I thought. NOTHING!!

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012
Article comment by: Owen Mayotte

Saying that a church can cause a person to react in such a manner is like saying that a child can cause a pervert to molest them. It is saying that a victim is to blame and not the criminal. If this had been a mosque, there would be a news circus decrying right-wing extremism. How pathetic that anyone would make excuses for criminal behavior, especially when they almost burn a church down, with a 14 month old child in the car. Come on, people.

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012
Article comment by: Furious Mother

...Seriously people?!! All you can focus on is how much you hate this church?! Wow, they are doing their job well then, because you are all convicted to the bone. How about we focus on the real crime and not about all of your walks down memory lane.

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Article comment by: Steven Peterson

Look at all the judgement being passed onto the Potters house. Do I believe in what they believe? No, not at all. Matter of fact im not religious at all. As long as what they are doing is not affecting me, they can believe what they want. I dont pass judgement on anyone no matter what the believe. Just because we share different thoughts doesnt mean they are bad people. Keep your thoughts to yourselves. I cant wait to see the judgement on my posting! YIPPEE

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Article comment by: Josh Clarke

I happen to know Matt Hepburn, but I'm not going to comment on him. I'm going to tell my experience with the Potter's House church. I was 14-years old when I was tricked into visiting "The Underground" under the pretense there was a concert going on. There was no concert, only preaching. I decided that I didn't want to hang around and headed for the doors. They were locked. I was told I couldn't leave until the "concert" was over and everyone was "saved". This continued until I threatened to call the police. Then they let me leave. I would call that kidnapping. In no way do I condone what Matt did, but it's about time that this cult was exposed for the crimes it is committing. I have many more personal stories very similar to this.

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Article comment by: Joel Rifkin

Although i strongly disagree with everything potters house related, and refuse to speak to potters house members, what this kid did is completely stupid. And to bring your kid with? He would be stupid to show his face around town again. As for the potters house, you will all be judged the same as myself. Probably far harsher for your literally insane way of life. Good luck with that i would trust Branch Dividians over you any day.

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Article comment by: Just Think

WOW ---- now I can see how this country could have re-elected a failing president. We no longer understand that wrong is wrong. If I got mad at a judge or teacher, and I took gasoline to their offices and lit a fire ... all while abandoning a small child in a vehicle, I would be arrested and no one would ever question if this were the right step. This same thing happened --- someone got offended, possibly even because they did something stupid to earn a consequence, and they stepped outside of the law in attempt to make a point using arson. What happened to being a grown-up and just making a different choice?!?!?! Even worse, the baseless comments of people claiming the church must deserve the act....just think about the implication!

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Article comment by: Frank Frank

Did you have to check with your pastor before you responded back?? And do you know the definition of a cult?? If you dont know the definition of a cult it is simple anybody that follows someone and believes in there beliefs that's the definition of a cult. David karesh for example was a leader, told his followers/sheep to kill themselves and they did. All you churches are a cult and/or business.
Jesus loves you and i don't.
Goodluck on your journey.

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Article comment by: silly people

I bet most of you who are talkin trash have never even stepped foot in this church. Rumors are just that rumors. as far as rick ross calling it a cult look at his website most churches in this town could be on his list. Oh and Frank all churches pass a "pan" or have a donation box. its amazing to me how people have taken a simple report of some (person) breaking in and trying to burn it down into an anti potters house and anti religion forum. Get over yourselfs!

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Article comment by: Ross has issues

Jennie W, Rick Ross has his own issues. Do some research.

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Article comment by: Caroline Shields

As a current member of the Potter's House, I fail to see the problem with our church. It has been called a cult and nothing could be farther from the truth. Keeping in mind that 10 years ago I was a Baptist, I married a wonderful man and this was his church. I went in and have never looked back and all the trash talking about my church should stop. I don't stand in front of your bar or drug dealers house, calling names or with arson on my brain. The only thing you get by attending is the pure, unadulterated gospel and a lot of people that love you and want to see you in heaven. And finally, there is no parent in our church that would pull a stunt like this and endanger a child.
Our Pastor in Las Vegas prayed with a man to get saved. Why do I bring this up? That young man had just hit and killed our Pastor's son right before his eyes after church one Sunday morning. We are a body of love because we are saved by the ultimate love, that of Jesus Christ.

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Article comment by: Frank Frank

To the bible toters at potters house, yes i agree what he did was wrong but you guys brain wash people and im not part of your sheep herd and im not into RELIGION! & i think your religion is a business when you pass your pan.
thank you

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Article comment by: Ryan Mayotte

I was born and raised in this church. Even though I hated it for a long time, it was because I was confronted with the sin in my heart. I repented of my sin, and received Christ in my heart when I was 19 years old. I am now a member, and not ashamed to say so. If you have opinions about the church, that's fine. But it doesn't mean you should jump to conclusions about the people or the church because of them. Why not come to a service and find out for yourself?
Sunday-9:30am Sunday School, 10:30am Service, 6:30pm Service,
Wednesday- 7:30pm Service.

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Article comment by: Jennie W

Do some research. The Potters House is viewed by some as a cult. The Christians Research Institute believes that Potters House has some serious issues going on:

Ex-member Rick Ross appeared on TV and wrote a book about the Potters House and stated that it was "dangerous and cultist". Just do some research...

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Article comment by: Really .

There is *never* any reason to set fire to the property of an organization (Potter's House) you may disagree with simply because they might engage in cult behavior. You've seen one cult, you've seen them all...
The guy broke the law and deserves the punishment he receives.

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Article comment by: scooter mcdougal

Wow look at all the potters house members on here defending their church. I agree this is probably the only church in town that would drive a member to do something like that. Probably told him he couldn't watch R rated movies or listen to that devils music (rock n roll)

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Article comment by: Carl Imparel

Monsters, doomgods, and the Potter's House all horror movies

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