Police in St. Louis have arrested and charged an African-American man with arson following the burning of seven churches, many of which were predominantly Black.
Authorities say 35-year-old suspect David Lopez Jackson is facing two counts of arson in connection to two of the fires; police only suspect he is responsible for the other five.
Contrary to initial speculation, police say the fires weren’t a result of hate crimes, The Washington Post reports. At least two of the churches attacked were not African-American and the string of fires did not seem to target a specific denomination.
Charges against Jackson stem from fires at New Life Missionary Baptist and Ebenezer Lutheran churches. He is being held on a $75,000 cash bond.
Surveillance footage shows Jackson’s car at the scene of the New Life Missionary Baptist Church fire, according to police. A gasoline canister and thermos that “smelled like gasoline” was found in his car, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said.
In addition to being linked to the two fires on Oct. 17 and Oct. 18, police are investigating if Jackson is responsible for a fire at a relative’s home just last week.