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Home World News Washington Post World News Arson suspected in fires in Mississippi’s capital

Arson suspected in fires in Mississippi’s capital

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JACKSON, Ms. – Authorities have arrested a suspect in connection with seven fires set in the Mississippi capital on Tuesday.

At least two of the buildings burned down in Jackson were churches; one was burned to the ground. Another fire broke out on fences around the baseball field at Jackson State University, a historically black public university. No injuries were reported.

“I’ve been here for 30 years. This is an important event,” Patrick Armon, assistant fire chief for the Jackson Fire Department, told WAPT-TV. “This is not something we normally go to. We have about a third of our department on location.”

After several hours of searching, the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office announced on Tuesday afternoon that they had arrested a suspect in connection with the arson attacks. They did not provide any information about the suspect’s motivation. The person will be transferred to Jackson Police Station for further questioning.

No charges have been announced.

Officials began receiving calls about several fires that started around 2:45 a.m. Officials said six of the seven fires were extinguished by 6 a.m. fire was extinguished.

Lloyd Caston, 73, an elder at Epiphany, was awakened around 4 a.m. by a phone call from a relative who lives near the church. Alarmed by the fire, he left his home and arrived at the church around 4:30 a.m. to “completely set the building on fire”.

“I was hurt,” Caston said, remembering seeing the church engulfed in flames.

Firefighters were on site to extinguish the fire when Caston arrived. He stayed for about an hour and left before the fire was extinguished. “There was nothing for it but to sit and watch,” Caston said. “That was it.”

“It destroyed the church and everything in it,” Caston said. The church is 85 years old and the renovation of the interior of the building was just completed in March.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba addressed the fires at a city council meeting on Tuesday.

“We don’t know who or why yet, but I want to thank the firefighters for being able to respond and still go back to the stations so people could line up for the polling station,” Lumumba said.

No polling stations would have been affected by the fires in elections Tuesday morning.

Delegates from the Mississippi State Fire Marshal Office investigate the fire at the Jackson State University baseball field because it is state-owned. The agency is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction for arson.

Michael Goldberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a national, not-for-profit service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on classified issues. Follow him on Twitter twitter.com/mikergoldberg.





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