In two weeks, an unknown arsonist has set fire to 7 different churches in St. Louis. Police authorities are still investigating the case and trying to find the perpetrator.
Thursday, October 22 – The Shrine of St. Joseph Catholic Church was deliberately set on fire, according to the officials’ statement. The fire was reported at around 1:30 a.m. but, fortunately, it didn’t cause much damage and the church still stands.
What officials worry about the most currently is that the fire which happened on October 22nd was the seventh set at a church in St. Louis in only two weeks, and the serial arsonist is still not jailed.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gave a statement saying, “We believe that this fire-setting activity is meant to send a message. We believe this activity may be the result of stress experienced in the subject’s life, which may be noticeable to those around him or her.”
Investigators believe that the fires were set by an individual or a group of arsonists. All the fires, from the first one set on October 8th to the last one on October 22nd were set at different churches in St. Louis, the investigators report.
If the same individual or group has been setting those fires, they don’t seem to be set out to destroy churches of only one religion, as the targeted churches were Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran and others.
“…You can burn down the building, but you cannot break our body”, said the Reverend David Triggs from the New Life Missionary Baptist Church, which was one of the targeted ones. “And we will not lose our voice,” he said at a gathering on Wednesday, 21st of October.
At the same gathering, Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson reassured religious and civic leaders by saying, “Whoever this person is, they’ve picked a fight they can’t win.”
Although the series of arsons doesn’t seem to be a matter of one religion, many believe the perpetrator(s) have a racial motivation.
All seven fires were set close to Ferguson, a suburban area of St. Louis where massive protests occurred. At one of those protests, a police officer Darren Wilson (white) killed a black, unarmed, teenager in a clash. Wilson wasn’t charged, and the arsons may be a form of revenge against the discrimination against African-Americans by the police.
The authorities have been investigating the arsons restlessly and are very motivated to catch the arsonist(s). There is currently a reward offered to the person who provides information about the criminal(s), and special patrols are being sent around churches in order to prevent another one being set on fire.