Black Churches Burned — FBI Investigating Arson At Five Churches In The South And Ohio

Tara Dodrill

Black churches burned in the South and Ohio have attracted the attention of the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). The investigators are currently working to determine if there is a link between the blazes.

FBI spokesman Paul Bresson ​said federal investigators are working in a supportive capacity with local law enforcement in black church burnings case.

“I’m not sure there is any reason to link them together at this point,” Bresson said during an interview with BuzzFeed. “They’re being investigated to determine who is responsible and what motives are behind them.”

Suspects in the black church fires have not yet been released to the public. Three of the fire blazes have been deemed confirmed cases of arson. The church fires in both Ohio and South Carolina remain under investigation.

The black church fires include a blaze at the College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, last Monday. A fire also occurred at the God’s Power Church of Christ on Tuesday in Macon, Georgia. The Briar Creek Baptist Church fire in Charlotte, North Carolina, reportedly caused about $250,000 in damage.

The Glover Grove Missionary Baptist Church fire in Warrenville, South Carolina, and the College Heights Baptist Church blaze in Elyria, Ohio, also still remain under investigation.

Briar Creek Pastor Mannix Kinsey told a local news station that he hopes the fire is not a hate crime, and added that the person who started the blaze is “already forgiven.” Pastor Kinsey also said that he is concerned about “the climate.”

“We are still talking about this same issue and this is 2015,” Kinsey said. “We all have to consider what else do we need to do to actually be able to work together.”

All five of the black church fires have occurred in the past week, and in the wake of the Charleston church shooting by Dylann Storm Roof.

Do you think there is a link or coordinated arson plot involving the black church fires?