Suspect arrested in connection with Talladega church burning

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TALLADEGA, Ala. (WIAT) — The State Marshal’s Office of the Alabama Department of Insurance has arrested a suspect in a Talladega church burning, according to a release from the department.

Donald Clay Warren, 31, has been arrested and charged with second-degree arson. Warren is currently being held in the Talladega County Jail.

Area firefighters received reports of a blaze at Welcome Springs Baptist Church around 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday. Welcome Springs Baptist Church, located on the 500 block of Welcome Springs Lane, was heavily damaged in the fire.

The ATF, Talladega County Sheriff’s Office, Sylacauga and Birmingham Fire Departments, and Alabama Department of Insurance State Fire Marshal’s Office were the investigating agencies in the case.

Reverend Jimmy Cook has been with the church for almost 25 years and was heartbroken to learn about the fire.

“I was devastated. I thought about all the work, all the prayers, songs, the events that took place there,” said Cook.

Cook said the church also burned several decades ago. Memories and photos are gone from the building, but he said that won’t deter his congregation.

“This is not the end of Welcome Springs. Welcome Springs is not that building, but it’s the people who inhabit that building,” said Cook.

The church will not have services Sunday because of the fire. Cook said he will rely on his faith to determine what’s next for the church, including a possible rebuild.

Cook said he has no ill will towards the suspect.

“I look at it as an opportunity that if I can’t touch him, God can,” Cook said.

Witnesses helped aid deputies in the investigation.

“It’s something that we know is very important to people in the community and very important to us as well,” said Captain Josh Tubbs.

According to investigators, Cook received a $50,000 bond.

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