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Dearborn Divine Child chapel arson: Inkster man arraigned on multiple charges

David Cerne charged with third-degree arson

DEARBORN, Mich. – A 43-year-old Inkster man was in court Thursday morning for an arraignment on charges in connection with lighting a firework inside a chapel at Divine Child Church in Dearborn.

David A. Cerne is charged with third-degree arson, arson prep to burn real property and malicious destruction of property under $200.

Cerne stood in a green jail uniform before Judge Mark Somers in the 19th District Court,> accused of going to Divine Child Church on Aug. 23 and lighting a firework inside the chapel, causing a Bible to burn and damage to the walls, floors and other surfaces. He is also accused of attempting to start a fire at House of Beverage on Cherry Hill Road.

Previous incidents caused Cerne to be charged as a habitual offender.

The judge asked Cerne where he lives and Cerne told the court he was residing in the Wayne County Jail. Somers simplified the question for Cerne who told the court that he lives with his father in Inkster and is retired. He said he served in the Army for 11 and a half years and receives 3,000 a month from the VA and 1,200 a month in Social Security.

The prosecutor said Cerne pleaded guilty in two different malicious destruction of property cases within the last year and he is aware of three other cases, besides the two cases before the court.

Cerne's arrest was also a violation of his probation and faces charges for the violation.

His bond was set at $100,000 cash surety, no ten percent.

Video shows man throwing firework in chapel

Cerne was arrested Friday after a man was seen on video walking into the Divine Child Church and throwing a firework into the chapel while a prayer service was taking place, Dearborn police said.

Police were called to the church around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, where the explosive had burned a Bible, but no parishioners were hurt.

Investigators found a commercial-grade firework in the chapel.

You can see video of the man walking into the church and the firework exploding inside the chapel here:

Witnesses said the man threw the firework and drove away in a newer-model Cadillac four-door with silver rims. The Cadillac had multiple stickers on the back window and rear bumper, police said.

"This assailant terrorized the parishioners inside a house of worship with a total disregard for their safety," Dearborn police Chief Ronald Haddad said.

The man was taken into custody just after 5 p.m. Friday, Dearborn police announced.

"I was just praying that whatever his issues are that he will be okay and we get him the help he needs," Father Jim Bilot said.

Cerne believed to have caused similar incidents

Police said the man is believed to be responsible for several similar incidents in Dearborn the last few weeks.

Cerne is believed to have set a firework off at a convenience store hours after the incident at Divine Child.

Surveillance video caught a man outside of the House of Beverage on Cherry Hill Road putting a firework in a trash can.

"I went to the video system and the same guy who bought the cigarettes also put the firework in the trash can and ran away," store owner Syvon Zetona said.

Suspect arrested in Inkster

Cerne was taken into custody after he allegedly attempted to blow up an Inkster home with a similar firework Friday night.

No damage was sustained.

The homeowner called police and was able to describe the suspect and a vehicle.

Cerne was arrested Friday and arraigned Saturday in Inkster.

Anyone with information is asked to call Dearborn police at 313-943-2241 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

Stay with ClickOnDetroit.com for updates.


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