An ‘Out Of Character’ Suspected Arson Heavily Damaged A Historic Antelope Springs Church

July 16, 2019
The historic Antelope Springs Methodist Episcopal Church damaged after the July 14 fire.The historic Antelope Springs Methodist Episcopal Church damaged after the July 14 fire.Courtesy of Zach Coffey
The historic Antelope Springs Methodist Episcopal Church damaged after the July 14 fire.

A 104-year-old church in a remote slice of Morgan County was allegedly set on fire early Sunday morning.

The Morgan County Sheriff's Office, the Hillrose Volunteer Fire Department and the New Raymer Volunteer Fire Department responded to a resident's report that the Antelope Springs Methodist Episcopal Church was on fire at approximately 3 a.m. on Sunday, July 14.

Firefighters were able to put out the flames, but there was extensive damage done to the interior of the church.

The Antelope Springs church was built in 1915 about 30 minutes northeast of Fort Morgan. It joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

"It’s been a local meeting place, gathering place, for the Antelope Springs community," Morgan County Sheriff Dave Martin said. "There’s a lot of people that travel there to look at the old church."

Courtesy of the Morgan County Sheriff's Office
Morgan County firefighters respond to a fire at the Antelope Springs Methodist Episcopal Church early in the morning Sunday, July 14.

Authorities stopped a car with three occupants that had been seen leaving the church with its headlights off. They found a gas can and an item that came from inside the church. The three occupants were released pending further investigation.

Later on Sunday, officers arrested and charged two of the men, Jacob Roper, 19, and Kyle Floyd, 27, with arson, burglary and trespass. The third occupant of the car, a 17-year-old male, turned himself in Monday night.

A second fire in Morgan County was reported later that morning at approximately 8:25 a.m. in an abandoned farmhouse. Martin said there wasn't enough evidence to connect the two incidents.

"We’ve had arson fires before, this is just out of character, especially for our area and especially for the Antelope Springs church," Martin said.

Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner contributed reporting.