Sheboygan church arson, man charged

Toufong Lee

A man is charged with arson, among other crimes, after allegedly setting a Sheboygan church fire Tuesday, March 22.

Prosecutors say Toufong Lee, 32, admitted to trying to start the fire and said he "hates Jesus."

A church staffer told police, according to a criminal complaint, that she unlocked the doors around 8 a.m. At around 8:30 a.m. or 8:45 a.m., she said she found gas cans near the kitchen and burn marks on the cabinets and floors.

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Surveillance footage showed a suspect, since identified as Lee, in a Jeep in the church parking lot around 8:40 a.m. The complaint states officers later acquired pictures of a similar looking Jeep in a Walmart parking lot and a man carrying three gas cans similar to those left at the church. Footage from a gas station showed the same man filling the gas cans that had been purchased at Walmart.

According to the complaint, Lee admitted to buying the gas cans, filling them with gas and going to the church to intentionally start a fire. He said that he "hates Jesus" and targeted the church because he saw a reference to Jesus on the church's marquee.

Sheboygan Police Department

Lee said it was his intent to empty the gas cans in the kitchen and light the gas stove in hopes of blowing up the building, the complaint states. He said he was splashing gasoline on the stove when something started the fire. He then panicked, left the gas cans behind and ran out of the building.

Per the complaint, Lee said that he was "glad he did not hurt or kill anyone," but was "disappointed" that the fire had apparently gone out right away.

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Lee is charged with four total counts:

  • Arson of building, hate crime
  • First-degree recklessly endangering safety (2 counts)
  • Burglary

Lee made an initial court appearance on March 23, and a judge set cash bond at $150,000. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 29.


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