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Surrey Mounties charge woman with arson following church burning

Kathleen Panek of no fixed address faces two criminal charges.
Surrey-coptic-church
Police say a 35-year-old woman is responsible for the burning of St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in the Whalley neighbourhood on July 14 and July 19.
RCMP in Surrey have charged 35-year-old Kathleen Panek with two counts of arson in connection with a church fire.

Police say Panek is responsible for the burning of St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in the Whalley neighbourhood on two separate occasions – July 14 and July 19.

Surrey RCMP Major Crime Section arrested Panek on August 26 after previously releasing surveillance camera footage of a woman setting the front doors on fire.

Panek is of no fixed address, according to police.

“The loss of the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church has had a significant impact on members of that congregation and the greater community,” said Sergeant Elenore Sturko. “We hope that this announcement of an arrest and charges will bring some comfort to those who were impacted.”

In July media reported dozens of Canadian churches were set on fire in an apparent reaction to unmarked graves being discovered at some former residential school sites operated by the Catholic Church.

Surrey RCMP did not state a suspected motive in this case.

gwood@glaciermedia.ca