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ATF investigators looking for similarities in church burnings

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Posted at 2:39 PM, Apr 08, 2019
and last updated 2020-02-04 14:45:46-05

OPELOUSAS, La. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says that their National Response team is on-site investigating the recent fires at three churches in St. Landry Parish.

The Bureau says that investigators are working to uncover any similarities between these three fires and other fires that have been reported in other parts of the country. Support data for the investigation is being provided by the US Bomb Center.

<figcaption class="wp-caption-text" id="caption-attachment-185808">Greater Union Baptist Church, Mont Pleasant Baptist Church, and St Mary Baptist Chruch / KATC

The ATF says that any possible links between these fires and others are still pending.

The first fire was reported on March 26, at the St. Mary Baptist Church in the 100 block of Saqueget Road in Port Barre. On April 2, the second fire was reported at the Greater Union Baptist Church in the 1400 block of Hwy 742 in Opelousas.  The third and final fire was reported Thursday,  April 4, at the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in the 3900 block of Highway 182 in Opelousas.

Investigators also say that a 4th church fire, which occurred in Caddo Parish on March 31, could possibly be connected despite its distance. The Caddo Parish church fire was found to be intentionally set, according to a release by the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office.

On Sunday, worshipers from the three church were proving that the burnings would not bring them down. KATC was there speaking with pastors and church members as congregations gathered together on Sunday.

Worshipers whose churches were burned are defiantly joyful today

ABC’s Steve Osunsami is in St. Landry Parish with more information on the church burnings. That report will be on ABC’s World News Tonight at 5:30 p.m. on KATC.