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

Nanaimo baseball stadium lighting project costs increasing by $350,000

Finance committee recommends LED lights at Serauxmen Stadium

Tribal Journeys go through Snaw-Naw-As, Snuneymuxw, Stz’uminus territory

Paddlers now in Ladysmith en route to final stop in Lummi, Wash.

Nanaimo-Opoly will let board game players deal Harbour City properties

Victoria’s Outset Media and Walmart Canada partner on local edition of popular game

Nanaimo RCMP arrest individual in connection with stolen e-bike

Arrest made following traffic stop on July 12

Man who pleaded guilty to beating over drug debt sees nine-year jail sentence

Colin Damen Gary Lamontagne sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

World’s fastest bathtub racer to be determined this weekend in Nanaimo

Great International World Championship Bathtub Race caps full weekend of downtown events

Beefs & Bouquets, July 18

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

Celebrity adds star power to Green Party town hall in Nanaimo

Pamela Anderson attended with representatives from U.S.-based environmental group

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Most Read