‘Sus­pi­cious’ fires raze three black churches

The Buffalo News - - NATIONAL NEWS - – Wash­ing­ton Post

OPELOUSAS – The sun rose Thurs­day to re­veal the smol­der­ing husk of Mount Pleas­ant Bap­tist Church. A fire had con­sumed the church’s in­te­rior, and smoke rose through a gap­ing hole in the roof that had shel­tered con­gre­gants for gen­er­a­tions.

“My church has a lot of his­tory,” the Rev. Ger­ald Tous­saint said Satur­day, not­ing that it was more than 140 years old. “I don’t un­der­stand it. What could make a per­son do that to a church?”

Au­thor­i­ties are con­sid­er­ing the same ques­tions af­ter Mount Pleas­ant be­came the third pre­dom­i­nantly black church to burn down in St. Landry Parish in the span of 10 days, set­ting lo­cal res­i­dents on edge. On March 26, flames re­duced St. Mary Bap­tist Church to just a few walls and piles of rub­ble. And on April 2, a blaze struck the Greater Union Bap­tist Church.

Au­thor­i­ties have not de­ter­mined a cause for the fires or es­tab­lished a con­nec­tion, but they are be­ing treated as crime scenes. State Fire Mar­shal H. “Butch” Brown­ing said, “we be­lieve that th­ese three fires are sus­pi­cious.” The Bureau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives and the FBI are as­sist­ing.

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