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Loveland church fire: Investigators followed footprints in snow to suspect's house

Darion Ray Sexton, 21, was charged Friday after "Molotov-cocktail"-type devices caused damage to a Loveland church this month.

DENVER — A man arrested on suspicion of setting two small fires that damaged a Loveland church this month faces federal charges in the case, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado said on Friday.

Darion Ray Sexton, 21, of Loveland, was charged on Monday with one count of causing damage by fire and explosive – real property. Prosecutors said Sexton is suspected of throwing "Molotov-cocktail"-type devices at Abiding Love Lutheran Church, at 2825 E. 1st St., just before midnight on Jan. 19.

When Loveland Fire crews arrived, they found a window near the front entrance had been broken out and a small fire was burning, according to the Loveland Police Department. Firefighters put out the fire, which caused very little damage.

As firefighters and officers searched the church, police said they found evidence of another small fire that had been set in the church's basement. The church's sprinkler system kicked in and extinguished the fire, LPD said. That fire caused "slight damage," police said.

According to the criminal complaint, investigators found footprints in the snow near the church that led into a nearby neighborhood and to Sexton's house.

A doorbell camera at the church showed a masked person throwing a device at the front door, the complaint says. The person in the video was wearing similar clothing to clothes recovered from Sexton's house by the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Investigators also found that a plastic bottle found at Sexton's home was similar to one found in the church basement.

And surveillance video from a Loveland liquor store two days before the fires showed a man who looks like Sexton buying Admiral Nelson's Premium Watermelon Rum – the same type of broken glass bottles found at the church, the complaint says.

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