Ala. Officials Arrest 3 Following February Church Arson Fires

March 8, 2006

Authorities and residents of Alabama got some good news on Wednesday following a series of church fires last month.

Three college students from Birmingham were arrested in connection with nearly a dozen church fires in the state. In all, 10 churches burned in February and authorities were quick to suspect arson.

“I am proud of the effort of the Alabama State Fire Marshals Office in the pursuit of this case,” Alabama Insurance Commissioner Walter Bell remarked. “It was a tragic occurrence, but we have seen unprecedented cooperation between federal, state and local investigators. And we have seen outpouring of love from across the country to the affected congregations. Our staff will work closely with the prosecutors in the development of the case against those charged.”

In court papers filed on Wednesday, one of the suspects reportedly told authorites that the fires started as a joke and simply had gotten out of hand. All three reportedly admitted involvement in the string of fires, which took place from Feb. 3-11. Five fires were reported in Bibb County, four in west Alabama and one in Lamar County.

A spokesperson for the Department of Insurance, when asked if a dollar amount in damages for all 10 fires had been totaled, told Insurance Journal, “I am not aware of a dollar figure … in light of the fact that some of buildings were not even insured. Most were old and replacement costs would be vastly higher than the worth of some of the buildings.”

Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus noted, “Thousands of hours of hard work by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies has resulted in the arrest of two suspects and the identification of another in the church arsons in Bibb County, Alabama. Having visited the churches on the morning of the fires and witnessed first hand the sadness and loss of the church families and citizens of Bibb County, I am gratified that those apparently responsible are being brought to justice.”

Alabama Attorney General Troy King added, “Law enforcement has, once again, done what they do – arrests have been made, communities have been secured, and a reign of terror that had gripped rural Alabama and riveted the attention of the nation has ended. As I have said all along, a man’s evil deeds will always find him out. Once again, they have. Justice will now be had.”

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