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Monday, February 13, 2006

Alabama Church Arsons: Possible Virginia Connection

The Richmond Times is reporting:

"The Alabama fires also have grabbed the attention of a Richmond-area task force that continues to investigate the fires that damaged or destroyed seven local churches in Henrico, Hanover and Charles City County. All were deemed suspicious and at least six were deliberately set."

The Richmond Times reports further that 2 ATF (Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) agents from the Richmond area are collaborating with the Alabama task force.

There have now been ten Church fires in Alabama two men between the ages of 20 and 30 are being sought their vehicle has tentatively been described as dark-colored SUV, most likely a blue or black Nissan Pathfinder.

BET.com is reporting:

More than 50 federal agents have been assigned to the fire investigations. ATF officials say the agency is investigating “literally hundreds of leads” and several possible motives. "This is our No. 1 priority nationally," Rich Marianos, an ATF spokesman said. The ATF is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

The ATF is reporting:

CENTREVILLE, Ala. - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has activated one of its National Response Teams (NRT) to investigate four church fires set this morning in three rural counties in Alabama.

The team includes special agents, forensic chemists, fire protection engineers and accelerant detection canine teams. In addition, geographic and criminal profilers and print specialists, bringing the total number of ATF personnel on the scene to more than 50.

“We view the intentional burning of a place of worship as a violent attack on our community’s well beings,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge James Cavanaugh, of the ATF Nashville Field Division. “Identifying and prosecuting those responsible is one of our highest priorities.”

While there were no injuries in the any of the fires, two churches were destroyed, the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in Greene County and the Dancy Baptist Church in Pickens County. Two other churches in Sumter County were damaged, the Galilee Baptist Church and the Spring Valley Baptist Church.

ATF has joined with the state of Alabama, local and other federal agencies to focus the maximum amount of investigative resources into these four new fires, and the five fires set on Friday in Bibb County, Ala.

Evidence gathered from the scenes of Friday’s fires has been documented, processed and taken to the ATF National Laboratory in Atlanta for analysis. The laboratory will make scientific determinations about the evidence, to include whether and what type of accelerant may have been used. Evidence from today’s fires will also be sent to the ATF lab in Atlanta for analysis.

ATF has joined with the state of Alabama in asking the public to help solve these crimes, posting a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those involved in the church fires in Bibb country on Friday. Anyone with information about any of the nine church fires is asked to call the 24 hour toll arson hotline: 1-888-ATF-FIRE.

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