The church was supposedly a pillar of the community.
A white teenager has been arrested in Richland Parish, Louisiana, in connection with the destruction of a predominately black church in the neighborhood. The building burned down early last week, and eyewitnesses have identified the young man as a possible suspect, based on accounts of the event.
According to USA Today affiliate The News Star, members of the St Paul Missionary Baptist Church found their church reduced to ashes and the 15-year-old in question is now being accused of stealing a truck and using gasoline to torch the place of worship."I couldn't believe it," Mary Alexander, a long-time member of the congregation, said. "Because we was just here last night for a church meeting and you never expect things like this would happen this close by." The fire was reported to police and firefighters early last Tuesday (October 31st) and, by the time law enforcement arrived on the scene, the church was completely enveloped in flames. There's been no details on how much monetary damage was done by the fire, nor is there any estimation of what it would cost to rebuild the community staple at this time.
Witnesses have already recounted to police that they saw the young white man driving a white Entergy truck near the church and, according to their stories, smoke began to rise from the building short after he sped off. Police worked with the Entergy corporation to track down the vehicle, which the suspect was still driving in Caldwell Parish a little while later.
The St Paul Missionary Baptist Church had just celebrated its 137th anniversary, according to The Independent. The teen who was arrested will be charged with theft of the gasoline truck and arson. He'll be tried in Richland Parish. "We don't know why," Alexander said of the sad turn of events. "Only God knows what's going through that person's mind. So we just ask for prayers for that person as well as our church family."