The fire that heavily damaged the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church was intentionally set, Greenville Fire Chief Ruben Brown said. A $11,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the culprit’s prosecution and conviction.
“We have collected samples and evidence from inside the church, and have sent them to be analyzed to determine the accelerant or ignition source,” Brown said.
“We need all the information we can get from the community to solve this crime,” Greenville Police Chief Delando Wilson said.
Wilson confirms there is one individual being questioned as a person of interest, but there are not any suspects at this time
The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation of the Tuesday night fire at the 200-member church, and Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons called the fire and graffiti a hate crime.
The church’s beige brick walls still stand, but the pulpit and pews are burned black, and soot stains the brick above and next to some windows. Brown estimated that it was “80 percent destroyed.”
FBI spokesman Brett Car said it was too early to determine whether the fire should be investigated as a possible hate crime.