A suspected arsonist is believed to be responsible for numerous fires set on Tuesday morning in Jackson, Mississippi. At least seven fires have been reported to have happened overnight, affecting areas in and around Jackson State University, which is a historically Black public college.
The suspect has been identified as Devin McLaurin. At least two churches—the Epiphany Church and Bethlehem Temple Church—were torched as well as Jackson State University’s baseball field. The areas where the fires broke out were:
Epiphany Church at 1230 Isaiah Montgomery, Greater Bethlehem Temple Church, 1101 Pascagoula Street, Baseball Field on JSU Campus, Central Street and Dalton and Terry Road and Cherry Street.
Jackson Fire Department Assistant Chief Patrick Armon told WAPT-TV:
“The fires that caused the most damage were located on Dalton Street and Isaiah Montgomery Road,” Armon said. “Fires were set on Robinson Road, Pascagoula Street, Briggs Street, Isaiah Montgomery Street, Lynch Street, Dalton Street and Terry Road. Since the incident, we have put out all fires as we continue the investigation.”
Armon added: “I’ve been here for 30 years. This is a major occurrence. This is not something we normally go to. We have about a third of our department on sites.” Officials said they started to receive calls about fires around the city beginning around 2:45 a.m.
They also shared that six of the seven fires were extinguished by 6 a.m. However, one church burned for more than four hours before the fire was eventually put out.
Mississippi’s fire marshal’s office, capitol police, Jackson Police Department and Jackson State University police are actively following leads. Despite this happening on Election Day, no polling places were affected by the fires.