Rev. Kyle Sylvester, center, who pastor’s St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church which was the first church that went ablaze, speaks with other area pastors Thursday, April 4, 2019, at First Benjamin Baptist Church in Opelousas, La. Authorities in southern Louisiana are investigating a string of “suspicious” fires at three African American churches in recent days. Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said it wasn’t clear whether the fires in St. Landry Parish are connected and he declined to get into specifics of what the investigation had yielded so far but described the blazes as “suspicious.” (Leslie Westbrook/The Advocate via AP)

Authorities investigate ‘suspicious’ fires at U.S. black churches

There have been three fires in recent weeks

Authorities in southern Louisiana are investigating a string of “suspicious” fires at three African American churches in recent days.

During a news conference Thursday, Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said it wasn’t clear whether the fires in St. Landry Parish are connected and he declined to get into specifics of what the investigation had yielded so far but described the blazes as “suspicious.”

“If you’re going to turn to a house of god, turn to it for resurrection,” he said.

State Fire Marshal’s spokeswoman Ashley Rodrigue says all three churches have African American congregations. She said all possibilities on the cause and potential motives are being investigated.

The ATF and the FBI also are involved in the investigation, Browning said. He said that more than 40 people from the marshal’s office are working on the investigation, which he described as “extremely active right now.”

The first fire occurred March 26 at the St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, and the second happened Tuesday when the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas caught fire.

Then Thursday morning the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas caught fire.

The churches were vacant at the time of the fires, and no one was injured.

Pastors from 10 area churches gathered Thursday to discuss the fires and show support for the affected churches, The Advocate newspaper reported.

The pastors said each of the churches was well over 100 years old.

The Rev. Harry Richard of Greater Union Baptist Church told the newspaper that he doesn’t want people to panic.

“I don’t know who’s doing it or why they’re doing it, but I don’t want to be the one to inject race into it,” he said.

READ MORE: Openly queer, female priest of B.C. church defying norms

READ MORE: 9 life sentences in state case on Charleston church slayings

The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Starry Nights fundraiser will support Outreach Cystoscopy Program

The South Cariboo Health Foundation’s annual light display will return this November

South Cariboo business wins national innovation contest

‘I learned that there was a lot of people out there like me’

Editorial: Vote wisely, but vote

There are no backsies when it comes to voting

ELECTION 2019: It’s so close, it could come down to who turns out to vote

Black Press Media’s polling analyst on the origins of predictive seat modelling in Canada

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over what the school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Most Read