FBI Investigating Black Church Fires

There’s no indication the fires in states across the South are connected, a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News, but FBI and ATF officials are cooperating with local investigators.

WASHINGTON — The FBI and ATF are cooperating with local authorities to investigate the recent spate of fires at black churches, a spokesperson for the FBI confirmed Sunday.

In recent days, there have been four fires at churches across four states — Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Three of the four have been ruled arsons by investigators; a cause for the fourth, at Grover Grove Baptist in Warrenville, S.C., had not been determined by investigators on Friday.

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

The cause of a fifth fire, at College Heights Baptist Church in Elyria, Ohio, was still being investigated Sunday.

The fires come just days after Dylann Roof allegedly went on a racially-motivated killing spree at a black church in Charleston, S.C. The shooting left nine dead and sparked a nationwide outcry against racial intolerance, and even a nationwide debate about the symbolism of the Confederate flag. The alleged shooter was seen in multiple photos posing with the flag.

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Darren Sands is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C.
Contact Darren Sands at darren.sands@buzzfeed.com.

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