6 Black Churches In St. Louis Area Burn, Arson Suspected

In this Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015 photo, Deacon Clinton McMiller, left, and Pastor David Triggs carry a cabinet back into the church after an outdoor service due to a fire at the New Life Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Someone has been setting fire to predominantly black churches in the St. Louis area, and investigators are trying to determine if the arsonist is targeting either religion or race. (J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

In this Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015 photo, Deacon Clinton McMiller, left, and Pastor David Triggs carry a cabinet back into the church after an outdoor service due to a fire at the New Life Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Someone has been setting fire to predominantly black churches in the St. Louis area, and investigators are trying to determine if the arsonist is targeting either religion or race. (J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis police are stepping up patrols and trying to develop profiles of possible suspects in a spate of fires that have damaged six churches in largely black neighborhoods during the past two weeks, the city’s police chief said.

Sam Dotson also told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1LEaWZi ) Tuesday that the churches damaged during the suspicious fires Oct. 8 through Oct. 18 vary denominationally and are within a few miles of each other.

Four are on St. Louis’ north side, and two are in nearby Jennings.

Dotson’s comments came the same day the reward for information leading to an arrest doubled to $4,000.

Five of the churches are predominantly black, and one is racially mixed. In each case, the front doors were set on fire, leaving damage that ranged from virtually nothing at one church to the near destruction of another.

St. Louis and federal authorities, including the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, are investigating, trying to determine whether the arsonist or suspects are targeting religion, race or both. St. Louis Fire Capt. Garon Mosby has said the possibility that the fires could be hate crimes — for religious or racial reasons — “is part of the dynamic” of the investigation.

The area is still reeling from the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown last year by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and a grand jury’s subsequent decision not to charge Wilson. Brown, who was black, was unarmed when he was shot by Wilson, who is white, in a case that spawned the national “Black Lives Matter” movement scrutinizing police treatment of minorities.

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This BBSNews article was syndicated from MintPress News, and written by AP. Read the original article here.