Officials Say Fire at Black Church in St. Paul, Minnesota Was Intentionally Set

St. Paul firefighters respond to a shed fire at New Hope Baptist Church on Burr Street on Sunday, April 28, 2019. (Courtesy of the St. Paul Fire Department)

St. Paul police are investigating a fire that they say was intentionally set at a black church, a department spokesman said Tuesday, though he said it’s too early to suggest a motive.

The fire, which has spawned online speculation about its cause, broke out sometime after 5 p.m. on Sunday at New Hope Baptist Church at 711 Bradley St.

Police spokesman Steve Linders said that any time a place of worship is vandalized or attacked, police treat the crime as a possible hate crime. “So we’re looking for anything that would lead us to believe that there was some kind of bias involved,” he said. But he stressed that any motives behind the fire remain unclear.

The St. Paul Fire Department does not consider the incident a hate crime, according to Deputy Fire Chief Roy Mokosso, who added that witnesses have said “there was some child fire play involved.”

“There is no indication that this arson targeted the church specifically,” Mokosso said. He said damage from the blaze was mostly limited to a shed next to the church, along with some residual heat damage to the house of worship. No injuries were reported.

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Source: Star Tribune