By Caitlin Aquino
Local authorities claim a 15-year-old teenager set fire to the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Richland Parish, Louisiana. “I couldn’t believe it,” said Mary Alexander, a long-time church member. “We was just here last night for a church meeting and you never expect things like this would happen this closeby.”
Witnesses reported the fire to the Richland Parish sheriff’s office on Tuesday, October 31, according to The News Star of Monroe. Once the deputies and fire department arrived at the site, they found the church engulfed with flames. A second building belonging to the church managed to survive the fire. The witnesses told authorities they had seen a young, white man driving a white Entergy truck near the scene. They noticed smoke rising from the church shortly after the truck left.
Working with the Entergy corporation of Louisiana, police officials located the truck to neighboring Caldwell Parish, where the suspect was found still driving the vehicle. They say the juvenile is connected to the theft of another Entergy truck from the lot near Caldwell Parish High School. The school was briefly placed on lockdown due to the truck running into other vehicles on campus.
The teenager was later taken into custody in Caldwell Parish for the truck theft and will also face arson charges in Richland Parish. “We don’t know why,” said Alexander of the fire. “Only God knows what’s going through that person’s mind. So we just ask for prayers for that person as well as our church family.”