Christine Byers, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 30, 2015
Police have made an arrest in connection with a two-week string of church arsons, most of which occurred at places of worship in black neighborhoods.
Investigators are expected to seek criminal charges against him today, and a press conference has been scheduled for 3 p.m. at police headquarters.
The police department announced on its Twitter page that the suspect is a 35-year-old black man who was arrested Tuesday.
The string of fires, many of which did minimal damage, drew attention of local and federal investigators. The locations drew speculation of whether it was a hate crime.
The Rev. Robert Gettinger, of St. Augustine Catholic Church, 1371 Hamilton Avenue, said news of an arrest is a relief.
“We pray for the person who has done this. It seems to be mentally off balance behavior,” Gettinger said.
Gettinger, at St. Augustine, said the church remains grateful that damage was isolated to the front doors, common in all the fires. St. Augustine has not yet received bids, but damage is easily in the thousands of dollars, he said.
“These are substantially big doors, about 15 feet high, at least three inches thick. Original to the church, which is about 100 years old,” Gettinger said.
The fires were small blazes set against the exterior doors, but in some cases spread.