Black man charged for string of St. Louis church fires

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Federal investigators say that there is no evidence of a hate crime after arresting 35-year-old David Lopez Jackson, a black man, in connection with two of the seven church fires recently set in St. Louis in predominately black areas.

“There appears to be no indication of a hate crime or sign… any one particular Christian denomination or ethnic group was being targeted,” the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said in a statement on Friday.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said that they “are still trying to understand” the motivation behind the fires and that, while Jackson had been arrested in connection to only two of the fires, he was a suspect in the other five.

The fires all took place in the areas around St. Louis and Jennings. The churches involved were of several different denominations: two Catholic, two Baptist, one Lutheran, one Church of Christ and one non-denominational.

The Rev Rodrick Burton of New Northside Missionary Baptist Church in Jennings said that the community would be relieved to hear that the fires were not racially motivated.

“I believe the St Louis community will have a sigh of relief,” Burton said. “Given our history of racial division, it will be a great relief that it is not motivated by prejudice.”