Watch CBSN Live

5 predominately black Mo. churches burn, arson suspected

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Someone has been setting fire to predominantly black churches in the St. Louis area.

New Life Missionary Baptist Church is the most recent church to be burned was set on fire on Saturday, reports CBS affiliate KMOV.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms i... 02:26

Police are looking for suspects and a motive. "It is arson. That's why law enforcement is involved in this entire investigation," said Captain Garon Mosby of the St. Louis Fire Department.

Mosby would not rule out the possibility of a hate crime directed either at churches or at African-Americans.

"My job is to love (them)," said Pastor David Triggs of New Life Missionary Baptist Church. "And I've forgiven this individual. We are going to tear down and rebuild."

There have been at least four previous fires at area churches but there are no details if any of them are connected, however, investigators say they have all started the same way: in the front two doors of the church.

Since Oct. 8, fire has damaged five churches, all within a few miles of each other in north St. Louis city and county. In each case, the front doors were set on fire. Damage has ranged from a few hundred dollars at one church to the near destruction of another.

The fires add to racial angst in an area still reeling from a police shooting and unrest in Ferguson last year.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is helping with the investigation.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.