ATF Searching For Answers In North County Church Arson | St. Louis Public Radio

ATF Searching For Answers In North County Church Arson

Nov 27, 2014

A fire that destroyed a church during Monday night’s chaos in Ferguson is being investigation by the 

Michael Brown, Sr. (left) demonstrates 'hands up' while Rev. Carlton Lee speaks to the crowd at the St. Louis County Justice Center on Saturday, September 13. Michael Brown's mother, Leslie McSpadden, is center.
Credit Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Burning a church is a federal offense. Investigators said that the fire at the Flood Christian Church was intentionally set.

The Flood Christian Church is just a mile outside of Ferguson. The Rev. Carlton Lee was in shock when he got the call Monday night telling him his church was on fire.

His reaction: “This can’t be real; this can’t be true. There’s a mistake ... why ... why you know, why set a church on fire.”

So far investigators have determined that there was forced entry into the Flood Christian Church and that the fire was set on purpose. Michael Brown Sr. is a member of the church.

ATF public information officer John Ham says structures around the building were untouched; and the church is not near other buildings that burned on Monday.

“That’s a concern to us. So one of the things we need to determine and will determine as part of our investigation is whether this church was a target in some way because of its affiliation to the Brown family.”

Ham notes that at this point they haven’t ruled anything out. It could be targeted vandalism or a crime of opportunity, but he says the investigation will take time.

ATF is working on the investigation alongside the St. Louis metro arson task force.

Lee says he doesn’t think insurance will cover the damage. Regardless he says he’s going to continue his work.

“What we do now is we regroup, we refocus and we rebuild. We are not stopping because we are stronger than this,” he said. “We believe that God has called us to this region and so we are going to do exactly what God called us to do.”

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