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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Thursday, May 2, 2019
Contact: Jeff Nowakowski

Parishioner Sentenced to Prison for Arson at Church

NEW ORLEANS, LA — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) New Orleans Field Division today announced a Mississippi man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for arson that destroyed an historic African-American house of worship and brought national attention to the Mississippi Delta during the presidential election period in 2016.


Andrew McClinton, 47, was sentenced on Thursday, May 2, 2019 by Washington County Circuit Court Judge Margaret Carey-McCray to state prison stemming from the fire that destroyed the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church on Delesseps Street in Greenville, Miss. in the evening hours of November 1, 2016.


The investigation into the church burning began when the Greenville Fire Department responded to a 911 call of a fire at the Hopewell Church. Certified Fire Investigators (CFIs) from ATF New Orleans Field Division assisted local law enforcement agencies and over the next several weeks developed McClinton as a suspect in the arson based on video surveillance and cell phone records that tied McClinton to the scene. McClinton, who was a member of the church, later admitted to setting the fire using the church’s electrical wires to light the carpet on fire.


McClinton was sentenced as a habitual offender after previously being convicted of a 1997 attempted armed robbery and a 2004 armed robbery, serving eight years in prison and was released in 2012.


ATF will continue to investigate, identify, pursue and hold accountable those individuals who seek to violate the sanctity of our churches,” said ATF New Orleans Field Division Special Agent in Charge Dana Nichols.


A team of ATF agents from the Oxford Field Office, led by Resident Agent in Charge Joseph Frank, performed extensive investigatory work on this case to include the origin and cause of the fire, securing a confession, and executing several warrants on the suspect’s phone. ATF assisted multiple local and state law enforcement agencies in the investigation of this case.


ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson as well as is the lead federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction involving firearms and violent crimes, and regulates the firearms industry. More information about ATF and its programs is available at


New Orleans Field Division