A suspect in arson, accused of starting seven fires in Jackson (Mississippi) on Election Day, including one that destroyed a church, has been taken into police custody.
According to the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office, Delvin McLaurin, 23, was taken into custody in Terry following a tip. He will be “transferred” to Jackson Police Department for further questioning.
According to Fox8, the targets that were set ablaze in Mississippi’s capital Tuesday morning included the Epiphany Lutheran Church and the Greater Bethlehem Temple Church. Also, there was a gas station, as well as the Jackson State University baseball field.
According to a spokesperson from the Jackson Police Department, McLaurin – who the news agency claims is being questioned also by the FBI – is already under investigation for felony malicious mischief.
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Officials began receiving calls about fires that started around 2:45 AM. Officials stated that six of the seven fires had been put out by 6 AM.
The Epiphany Lutheran church, one of the oldest, predominately Black Lutheran churches Mississippi, was on fire for over four hours before the flames were put out.
One photograph taken in the aftermath showed a cross emerging from the charred remains.
Lloyd Caston, a resident of the area, said that the fire destroyed the church and all its contents. The church is 85-years old and renovations to its interior were completed in March.
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It was not immediately obvious what the motive behind the fires was.
At a Tuesday meeting of the Jackson City Council, Chokwe Antar Lumumba stated that the incidents were “believed” to be arson, according to the Mississippi Clarion Ledger newspaper.
This report was contributed by the Associated Press.