Santa Maria man accused of attempting to burn down a church

January 1, 2020


A 27-year-old man was arrested on New Years Eve for allegedly attempting to burn down Saint Mary of the Assumption Church in Santa Maria.

At about 9 a.m on Wednesday, church staff discovered a man burning objects in front of the alter. When staff approached the man, he fled.

An officer arrived and found a man nearby who matched the suspect’s description. When the officers attempted to detain Cristobal Zarate, the suspect threw an unknown liquid irritant on the officer.

Zarate began fighting with the officer and a good Samaritan came to the officer’s assistance.

Emergency personnel transported the officer to Marian Medical Center where he was treated for minor injuries related to the liquid irritant.

Officers arrested Zarate on charges of arson, felony assault on a peace officer, felony assault with a caustic chemical, disturbing a religious meeting, and vandalism charges and booked him into the Santa Barbara County Jail with his bail set at $50,000.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

$50,000 bail is insane. He should be charged with attempted murder if the Church was occupied.

What is it with the judges who set these ridiculous low bail amounts? Whats to keep this creep from running away to Mexico or wherever never to see been again to pay for his horrible actions?

I agree. I think the whole bail scheme is a bad idea. Why should someone get to roam free because the can “afford” bail? How about someone who cannot? Are they not just as likely to be innocent or guilty? We need a system that is more financially equitable and does not offer bail when someone poses a flight risk or is suspected of a violent crime. IMHO.

Why roam free? Well, there’s this thing called the Constitution which mentions bail.

And as to the amount, don’t discount local judges who probably work hard daily to assess risks of flight, recidivism, mental stability and other things, and who then try to fix bail appropriately. The bail system works and shouldn’t be destroyed as liberals are seeking.