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Central Coast Man Arrested After Fires Set In Church, Police Officer Attacked

A man is facing a number of criminal charges after police say he tried to set fire to a Central Coast church, and then attacked an officer trying to stop him him with some type of chemical. Santa Maria Police were called to a church on the 400 block of East Church Street yesterday morning. The church’s staff had called 911 to report a man was setting fire to items in front of the church’s altar.

When the staff members confronted Christobal Zarate, he fled the building. A Santa Maria Police officer spotted Zarate a few blocks away. The officer says the Santa Maria man refused to stop, and then splashed him in the face with an unknown liquid irritant.

A passerby saw what was happening, and helped the officer restrain and arrest Zarate.

The officer was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries from the chemical. Zarate was arrested on charges ranging from arson, to assault on a peace officer.