Suspect Charged in 2 of the St. Louis Church Fires

Authorities no longer suspect a hate crime
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 30, 2015 3:58 PM CDT
Suspect Charged in 2 of the St. Louis Church Fires
In this Oct. 18, 2015, photo, Pastor David Triggs and his wife, Charronda, hold hands during an outdoor service following a fire at the church at the New Life Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis.   (J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File)

Authorities charged A 35-year-old black St. Louis man with arson following fires at two predominantly African-American churches earlier this month and federal investigators said they no longer believe the incidents were a hate crime. David Lopez Jackson was charged Friday in St. Louis Circuit Court with two counts of second-degree arson in the Oct. 17 fires at Ebenezer Lutheran Church and New Life Missionary Baptist Church. The blazes were among seven in the St. Louis area between Oct. 8 and Oct. 22. Five were in St. Louis and two were in nearby Jennings, all within a few miles of each other. Five of the congregations are predominantly black, one is racially mixed, and one is mostly white.

The fires spurred a hate-crime investigation based on either racial or religious motives. But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Thursday there is no indication a hate crime occurred. The region is still recovering from the events surrounding last year's police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, and a grand jury's subsequent decision not to charge the officer who shot him. Brown was black and unarmed when he was shot by white Darren Wilson in a case that helped spur the national "Black Lives Matter" movement, and it renewed concern about the treatment of minorities in the St. Louis region. (More arson stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.