Somerville church fire may be arson, investigators say - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Somerville church fire may be arson, investigators say

Investigators said it appears the church was set on fire Monday morning by individuals throwing Molotov cocktails through its windows. Investigators said it appears the church was set on fire Monday morning by individuals throwing Molotov cocktails through its windows.

SOMERVILLE, TN (WMC-TV) - Officials are investigating an apparent Monday morning arson at Wray's Chapel M.B. Church in Somerville.

"To do something to a home is messed up," neighbor Herbert Johnson said Monday.  "But especially a church, a place you go to worship, that's messed up."

Johnson believes hate might very well be the motive.

"Because there's a lot of prejudice around here," he said.  "I lost my job because of prejudice."

Action News 5 was first to break news of the fire-bombing.  We were the only station on the scene Monday as ATF agents and the FBI joined Fayette County Sheriff's deputies collecting evidence both inside and outside the church.

One of the fire-bombs burned a spot in the middle of the fellowship hall floor.  One agent says the church is lucky the 100 year-old structure didn't burn to the ground.  The sanctuary was spared.

Pastor Terry Swain tells us the congregation has never experienced anything like this before.  He and others thank God for minimal damage and pray for swift justice.

"When they find out, I hope they prosecute them," Johnson said.  "Because to do something to a church, that's messed up."

Investigators tell Action News 5 nothing is being ruled out at this point.

The church is located in the 7000 block of Highway 59 in Somerville.

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