FBI, ATF Investigating Arsons at Black Churches

The FBI is investigating a string of arsons at black churches, the majority in the south.

The agency has confirmed that three of the fires being investigated were arson.  The fires began less than a week after the massacre of 9 people at a South Carolina church made up of a predominantly black congregation.

“They’re being investigated to determine who is responsible and what motives are behind them,” FBI spokesperson Paul Bresson told BuzzFeed News. “I’m not sure there is any reason to link them together at this point.”

Churches have been burned in Tennessee, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Ohio and Florida.  The ATF is taking the lead in the investigations

“ATF is the lead investigative agency, and we have special agents and certified fire investigators from several field divisions investigating the fires to determine cause and origin,” Ginger Colbrun, spokeswoman for the ATF, said in a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times on Monday. “We are in the early stages of these investigations, but at this time we have no reason to believe these fires are racially motivated or related.”

The pastor of Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in East Charlotte, North Carolina says that the arson at his church caused over $250,000 in damages.

“We have already forgiven them and we’re hoping that the investigation will take its place and do what’s necessary,” Kinsey told WBTV. “These buildings can be repaired, they can be built over. This is the opportunity for God to really touch the hearts of individuals … we don’t have any malice against anyone else.”

A fire at College Heights Baptist Church in Ohio reportedly caused over a million dollars in damage.