Local police along with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are investigating a fire at a Black church in Springfield, Massachusetts.
According to NBC News, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church caught fire during the early hours of Monday morning. Firefighters responded to a call around 5 a.m., and it took them nearly an hour to extinguish the fire. Springfield Fire Commissioner Bernard Calvi told NBC News the fire was “highly suspicious” as “there’s been three other fires in this general area in the last three weeks.”
Officials are currently investigating the premises to ensure that there wasn’t an accidental cause for the fire. According to WWLP, firefighters did not see anyone around or inside the church at the time of their arrival. It was said that the fire was so damaging that it rendered the church “unusable.” This is even more heartbreaking due to the fact that the congregation recently replaced the roof after staging a successful fundraising campaign.
Ronn Johnson of Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Services told WWLP that the church has been the site of multiple instances of vandalism in recent weeks, including an incident where some cardboard had been set ablaze. While this is awful and I feel for the congregants, I’m just happy no one was actually hurt as a result of the fire.
Springfield police and the FBI are currently searching the area for any leads. The FBI has joined the investigation as the sheer fact it was a Black church set on fire in the middle of the night means this could be a hate crime. The ATF has also joined the investigation along with the Massachusetts State Police Arson and Bomb Squad.
I’m just saying it now: it’s going to be real sus if four law enforcement agencies can’t figure out who set this church on fire.
The church was founded over 40 years ago, and Reverend Dr. Terrlyn L. Curry Avery currently oversees the approximately 50-person congregation. Should you live in the area and have any information on who set the church on fire you are encouraged to call the arson hotline at 800-682-9229. If your info leads to a suspect you may get a $5,000 reward. I know Cam’ron instilled some very strong opinions about snitching, but the way I see it, you could feel like a hero and be $5,000 richer.