UPDATE: Seven Churches Have Been Set on Fire in Past Two Weeks
Two more churches have been set on fire this week, according to the St. Louis Fire Department. The most recent burning occured at St. Joseph's Shrine Rectory Thursday morning. The sixth fire happened at the Ebenezer Lutheran Church on Saturday (Oct. 17).
The Fire Department and Missouri Division of Fire Safety are seeking a $5,000 reward for information that would lead to the arrest of the arsonist causing fires at these houses of worship.
Historically, Black churches have been targeted for violent attacks, with one of the most tragic incidents occurring in Charleston, South Carolina this past June. Nine African-Americans died while attending Bible study at Emanuel AME in that attack.
In the past 10 days, five churches with African-American worshipers were set on fire in St. Louis, causing alarm in the city among Black faith leaders. Local authorities are investigating the incidents to find connections between them. There are similarities in how the churches were set ablaze, said St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson to NBC News.
The most recent was at Life Missionary Baptist Church on Saturday morning. The string of fires began on Oct. 8 at Bethel Non-Denominational Church, followed by a fire at New Northside Missionary Baptist Church on Oct. 10. The doors of St. Augustine Church were burned on Oct. 14. New Testament Church of Christ was set on fire early Thursday, according to St. Louis Dispatch.
Authorities say that the fires are arson. "These are being intentionally set," said St. Louis Fire Captian Garon Mosby to KTVI. "This is not spontaneous combustion, so they are not occurring on their own," he continued.
Fortunately, no one was hurt in any of the fires.
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(Photo: St. Louis Fire Department via Twitter)