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Arsonist who torched school, church in Encinitas sentenced

ENCINITAS — An Encinitas man who admitted setting fires at a church and a middle school and throwing a Molotov cocktail into another church building during a three-week arson spree was sentenced today to 10 years in federal prison.

Tyler Carender, 22, was arrested in July 2017 at his home on Island View Lane in Encinitas, which is adjacent to Oak Crest Middle School and about 400 yards from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, both of which were damaged in the fall 2016 arson spree.

He pleaded guilty in March to all three arson-related charges.

The Rev. Brenda Sol, rector at St. Andrew’s, told Carender that the church congregation is sad, but not angry with him.

“We pray that you understand the depth and breadth of the lives you touched in such horrible and negative ways, so that you understand you can touch just as many lives doing helpful and beneficial things,” Sol said. “We want you to know that when you committed these crimes on our property, you became one of us, so you will always have a home at St. Andrew’s.”

In his plea agreement, Carender admitted that he began his 21-day crime spree on Oct. 22, 2016, when he set fire to the Friendship House counseling and youth center building at St. Andrew’s church. The rapid response of the Encinitas Fire Department prevented the fire from spreading to other church building and nearby residences, prosecutors said. The Youth Center was destroyed, however, causing $200,000 in losses.

Carender admitted that a week later, he set fire to the Administrative Building at Oak Street Middle School by breaking into the building and using gasoline to ignite books and files, causing an estimated $1.5 million in damage. Because of a possible roof collapse, firefighters had to fight the fire from the exterior.

Carender also admitted that two weeks later, he returned to the St. Andrew’s church campus and threw a Molotov cocktail into the office of the church’s preschool building, causing another fire. Damage to the building was estimated at $25,000.

San Diego County sheriff’s detectives received an anonymous tip from Crime Stoppers, which identified Carender as the arsonist. The defendant confided in a classmate about committing the fires, according to court filings.