GREENVILLE, Miss. (WJTV) — A church fire in Greenville is being investigated as a hate crime.
Authorities went to Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church after it was engulfed in flames Tuesday night around 9 p.m. also, the words “Vote Trump” were spray painted on the side of the building.
The pastor said the church hadn’t made any political statements and they don’t know why they were targeted.
There is minimal damage outside the church, but the sanctuary is destroyed. The glass windows are shattered, and the pews are charred black.
Police don’t have any surveillance video and they haven’t pinned down any suspects.
No one was inside when the fire broke out. Fire investigators are working now to determine how they fire started.
Authorities held a news conference about the investigation Wednesday morning.
Several state leaders are commenting on the incident.
“Last evening, Hopewell M.B. Church in Greenville, MS, was burned and defaced in what was a deeply shocking and saddening event that harkens back to a much darker day in Mississippi. I am very concerned about this heinous crime and will urge federal government agencies to coordinate with state and local law enforcement to utilize every resource at their disposal to investigate this incident and bring the perpetrator to justice.”
“The political message of the vandalism is obviously an attempt to sway public opinion regarding the upcoming election. I encourage all citizens not to be deterred by this cowardly act and exercise your right to vote at the ballot box.” – Congressman Bennie Thompson
In addition, a GoFundMe page has been set up for the church. At last check, the campaign had raised more than $67,000.
UPDATE: 11/02/2016 8:53am A press conference is set to get underway at 10:30am (local time). WJTV has a crew on the scene.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the situation and WJTV has a crew en route to the scene.
FBI Public Affairs Specialist Brett Carr says, “The FBI Jackson Division is aware of the situation in Greenville, and we are working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to determine if any civil rights crimes were committed.”
GREENVILLE, Mississippi (WJTV) – Law enforcement authorities are investigating after a church appears to have been burned and vandalized in Greenville, Mississippi last night.
Very little is known about the incident except that it appears that political messages were possible painted on the building. It is not known if the vandalism is related to the fire.
Police have not yet released any official information about the incident and are deferring questions until this morning’s press conference.