Man charged with arson of Brooklyn Park Salvation Army church

Jack Douglas Heinrich, 33, faces several felony charges, including arson, for allegedly starting a fire in the Brooklyn Park Salvation Army church that destroyed donated coats.

A 33-year-old man faces several felony charges for allegedly breaking into the Brooklyn Park Salvation Army service center and starting a fire that caused extensive damage to the church and destroyed donations ahead of a community coat drive

Jack Douglas Heinrich, 33, was charged on Friday with second-degree arson, second-degree burglary, and first-degree damage to property for his alleged role in the vandalism of the Salvation Army center.

The incident began around 10:42 p.m. on Thursday after the Brooklyn Park police and firefighters responded to a burglary alarm at the Salvation Army church. When first responders arrived on the scene, they found smoke billowing from the chapel along with numerous broken windows on the front side of the building, according to the criminal complaint. 

Surveillance footage obtained by FOX 9 shows a man in the chapel around 10:44 p.m. piling a chair and donated coats onto a pew, lighting it on fire, and then walking away.

Photos taken in the church following the fire show a damaged church pew, charred chairs and donated coats, water on the floor, and missing ceiling tiles. 

A Salvation Army spokesperson said the man also broke most of the building’s windows and vandalized the office areas and portions of the food shelf. Police observed footage from the Salvation Army, which allegedly shows Heinrich throwing a flowerpot at a window and then entering the building, the complaint states. 

The Salvation Army estimates there could be $500,000 worth of damages from the vandalism. 

Police located Heinrich near the scene and found a lighter in his possession. The criminal complaint states police had multiple interactions with him in the days leading up to the fire. 

Heinrich had felony warrants for fourth-degree drugs and fourth-degree assault on a peace officer at the time of the arrest. He also history of mental illness and has been committed to an institution at least twice — once in 2017 and then again in September 2020, according to court documents.

If found guilty, each charge carries up to a 10-year sentence. Heinrich is scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday afternoon. 

All the winter coats in the facility sustained smoke damage. The Salvation Army is asking the public to donate coats so the families who signed up to receive them can still get them before the temperature drops. Coats of all sizes are needed and can be dropped off next week at the service center at 10011 Noble Parkway in Brooklyn Park.