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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

Kansas City Field Division

For Immediate Release

Friday, October 30, 2015
Contact: Special Agent Nicole Strong, PIO

Suspect Arrested in String of Church Fires in St. Louis

St. Louis, Mo. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) today announced the arrest of David Lopez Jackson.

On Oct. 17, at 4:06 a.m., the St. Louis Fire Department responded to a 911 call regarding a fire at New Life Missionary Baptist Church, located at 4569 Plover Ave., St. Louis, Mo. ATF, the St. Louis Regional Bomb and Arson Unit, and the St. Louis Fire Department Fire Investigation Unit responded to New Life Missionary Baptist Church.  The fire originated at the front doorway to the church and resulted in moderate exterior damage. 

On Oct. 18, ATF and the St. Louis Regional Bomb and Arson Unit responded to Ebenezer Lutheran Church Fire at 1011 Theobald, St. Louis, Mo., for a fire. The fire occurred between the hours of 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 17 and 9 a.m. Oct. 18. The fire originated at the front doorway to the church and resulted in minor exterior damage.

Yesterday, Jackson was detained for questioning in the church fires in St. Louis City.

Today, Jackson was charged with two counts of arson out of the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office. The charges stem from the arsons at New Life Missionary Baptist Church and the Ebenezer Lutheran Church Fire.

Based on the investigation so far, there appears to be no indication of a hate crime or sign of any one particular Christian denomination or ethnic group was being targeted.

“Arson is a violent crime,” said ATF Kansas City Field Division Special Agent in Charge Gregory Gant.  “ATF views an arson attack against a house of worship as an attack on not just a building, but against a community. We work shoulder to shoulder with our state and local partners to bring those responsible to justice.”

The investigation was led by ATF jointly with the Saint Louis Regional Bomb and Arson Unit (SLMPD and SLCPD), as well as the Saint Louis Fire Department Fire Investigation Unit. This investigation is ongoing.

The Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996, grants federal authorities greater power in pursuing investigation and prosecution of burnings and desecrations at houses of worship. Fire investigations have been an integral part of ATF’s mission since the passage of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970.

More information about ATF and its programs is available at www.atf.gov

 

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Field Division: Kansas City Field Division