The FBI along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are working to determine whether there is a connection between five black churches across the United States that have been set ablaze in the last week, BuzzFeed reported. FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said federal authorities are supporting local investigations to help identify the perpetrators and their motives.
“I’m not sure there is any reason to link them together at this point,” Bresson told BuzzFeed.
Officials have yet to name any suspects. Three out of the five fires have been confirmed as arson attacks while the cause of the other blazes, in South Carolina and Ohio, are still under investigation.
The fires have hit five states:
Knoxville, Tenn. -- College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church last Monday, identified as night arsonist attack
â€” no one in particular (@spambot3049) June 23, 2015
Macon, Georgia -- God’s Power Church of Christ Tuesday, investigated as night arsonist attack
â€” BET (@BET) June 26, 2015
Charlotte, N.C. -- Briar Creek Baptist Church on Wednesday, identified as night arsonist attack with $250,000 in damage, NBC News reports
â€” CNN (@CNN) June 26, 2015
Warrenville, S.C. -- Glover Grove Missionary Baptist Church Friday
â€” Doyle Global Media (@DoyleGlobal) June 28, 2015
Elyria, Ohio -- College Heights Baptist Church Saturday
â€” WEWS NewsChannel5 (@WEWS) June 27, 2015
There have indeed been other instances of fires in churches in the last week. One in Gibson County, Tennessee, Wednesday is suspected to have been caused by lightning, and a tree limb that fell on electric lines set fire to a church in Tallahassee, Florida, Friday, Think Progress reported.
The fires come shortly after Dylann Roof, 21, attacked a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, where he shot and killed nine victims. He allegedly had racist motivations, as identified by an online manifesto tied to Roof was uncovered.