A white male teenager from Caldwell Parish has been arrested and is now facing an arson charge for allegedly torching down a predominantly black Baptist church in Richland Parish, Louisiana, for yet unknown reasons.
According to the News-Star of Monroe, the predominantly black St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church's new sanctuary was set on fire on Oct. 31, but its century-old building was fortunately untouched. Witnesses recalled speaking to a young white man driving an Entergy Corp. truck which left the area shortly before smoke was seen from the house of worship, the Associated Press relayed.
Mary Alexander, who had been going to St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church since she was young, said they did not expect the incident to happen. She also could not think of any reason why anyone would burn down their church, MyArkLaMiss reported.
"I couldn't believe it," said Alexander. "Because we was just here last night for a church meeting and you never expect things like this would happen this close by."
He added: "We don't know why only God know's why... what's going through that person's mind so we just ask for prayers for that person as well as our church family."
In addition, Alexander shared that only ash and debris have been left of their church. Nevertheless, she said their congregation will continue to stand on their faith because they cannot just stop worshipping God.
Alexander also said she was thankful that the old building next door was untouched by the flames. That would help them move forward from the incident.
Upon investigation, authorities found the Entergy Corp. truck with the young suspect. They also confirmed that the teen was part of a second theft from the company and that he allegedly used one of Entergy's trucks to bump vehicles at the Caldwell Parish High School.
Richland Parish Sheriff Gary Gilley said the teen suspect would face arson charges in the county.