New Hope Community Church in El Monte

The map shows the location where a man was arrested on suspicion of using Molotov cocktails to spark a fire at the New Hope Community Church in El Monte. (Google Maps / January 29, 2014)

A 28-year-old El Monte man has been arrested on suspicion of using Molotov cocktails to spark a fire at a church, police said Wednesday night.

A cross at the New Hope Community Church was set ablaze Tuesday afternoon and received minor damage before the flames were doused by firefighters, according to the El Monte Police Department.

Police said Alexander Basham was arrested at the scene and that evidence allegedly tied him to the crime. 

The suspect "was seen holding onto several bottles with rags sticking out of them," police officials said in a statement.

"Three Molotov cocktails were located," authorities said. "One was burned and two had extinguished themselves prior to igniting their intended target."

El Monte police detectives and arson investigators with the Los Angeles County Fire Department were probing the case. 

Basham was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail, according to Sheriff's Department online booking records.

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robert.lopez@latimes.com

Twitter: @LAJourno