Men questioned in fire at black Texas church
June 10, 1996
Web posted at: 11:50 a.m. EDT
GREENVILLE, Texas (CNN) -- Three men were being questioned Monday about a fire Sunday night at a predominately black church near Dallas, the latest in a string of fires at black churches in the South, authorities said.
The cause of the fire had not been determined, and it was not known whether the blaze was racially motivated. The men being questioned are white.
Smoke and flames caused extensive damage to the New Lighthouse of Prayer Church, located about 40 miles northeast of Dallas, Fire Chief Robert Wood said.
A fire at a separate building was reported about 4 a.m. Monday, three hours after the suspects were detained by police, Wood said. He described both fires as "acts of local vandalism."
Authorities would not discuss whether they suspected arson in either fire, and would not say whether the second fire -- about one mile away from the first one -- even involved a black church.
In Washington, clergy members held a news conference after meeting with Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. He is in charge of the the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, one of the federal agenices investigating more than two dozen suspicious fires at churches with predominately black congregations in the last 18 months.
The clergy members denounced the church fires and said efforts need to be intensified to find those responsible.
On Sunday, the church leaders met with Attorney General Janet Reno on the role of the FBI and the Justice Department in the expanding investigation, which now involves more than 200 federal agents.
Reno informed the pastors about the Church Arson Task Force, a joint effort between the Treasury and Justice departments. Its members will report to President Clinton about the status of the church-fire investigations.
- Reno pledges full investigations into church fires June 9, 1996
- Reno meets with ministers worried about church fires June 9, 1996
- Clinton sounds call to stop church burnings June 8, 1996
- List of black church fire investigations - June 8, 1996
- 'This was a set fire' - June 7, 1996
- Investigators sift through ashes of latest black church fire - June 4, 1996
- Southern Christian Leadership
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Fire and EMS Information Network
- Department of the Treasury: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
- bit.listserv.blues-L (Thread discusses church fires)
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