- Associated Press - Thursday, August 3, 2017

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) - Federal authorities say a man is accused of deliberately setting a fire at a church in Rio Rancho.

Prosecutors with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives filed a criminal complaint charging 23-year-old Gordon Schuler with using fire to damage or destroy a building used in interstate commerce.

Authorities say the July 31 fire caused extensive damage to the Peace Lutheran Church.

ATF special agents say a business near the church had surveillance cameras that allegedly showed Schuler wearing a backpack and carrying a hammer.

They say those items were later found inside the church.

Schuler currently is in state custody and will be transferred into federal custody to face the charge in the criminal complaint.

If convicted, prosecutors say Schuler faces a prison sentence of at least five years.


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