Alarming news in Louisiana has the FBI investigating suspicious fires that have burned down historical Black churches in the southern state. Three churches have been burned down in less than two weeks in St. Landry Parish near Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
On April 2, the 100-year-old Greater Union Baptist was completely burned down from the roof to the pews. Pastor Harry Richard, whose grandfather helped build the church, is taking the ruin to heart.
"He left a legacy for me and I was trying to fulfill that to the best of my ability," he tells CBS News while fighting back tears.
The questionable fires began early last week, with the most recent one on April 4. All three historical Black baptist churches are just a few miles apart in St. Landry Parish.
"We do believe that this fire is suspicious. We do believe a crime has occurred," said Louisiana State Fire Marshal H. Butch Browning.
Historically, the burning of Black churches was an intimidation tactic used to scare Black communities, especially during the 20th century.
"We can't let this setback stop us from doing what God initially called us to do," said Kyle Sylvester, the pastor of the first church burned, St. Mary's Baptist Church.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and the FBI are working together to determine if it is a hate crime. It is too early to determine at this time.
"We're gonna solve this. For the people responsible, the right thing to do would be to ask for redemption and come forward and let us help you through this process, don't make us hunt you down, because we will," said Browning.
All three pastors are making a commitment to rebuild.
(Photo: Getty Images)