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Person caught on video setting fire to Baton Rouge church facility

5 months 1 week 4 days ago Monday, April 18 2022 Apr 18, 2022 April 18, 2022 6:55 PM April 18, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Law enforcement officers are looking for an arsonist seen on video setting fire to a building on a church campus.

Baton Rouge firefighters were dispatched to Istrouma Baptist Church on Sam Rushing Drive near I-12 in response to a reported fire near the entrance to an attached classroom building. 

“The facility manager got on scene, saw remnants of fire and called the fire department,” explained Curt Monte with the Baton Rouge Fire Department. 

Once firefighters got there, they weren't met by flames. But what they did find caused some skepticism. 

“Our truck responded to make sure the fire was completely out. Upon arrival, the fire did look suspicious,” Monte said. 

Investigators reviewed security footage and saw a person wearing a mask and gloves walking up to the building. A flash is seen after a few minutes, and the person—seen carrying a spray can and a lighter—ran away on foot.

BR Autoplex sits across the street from Istrouma Baptist Church near I-12. The neighboring business was shocked to learn someone tried to set part of the church on fire.

“It's pretty crazy to hear this news actually on Easter Sunday. Trying to burn down a church is not something I would expect to hear around here,” said Hamed Ghassemi, the owner of BR Autoplex. 

A lot of people are scratching their heads trying to figure out why, and investigators are still piecing that together as well. 

“We don't know why. A motive has not been figured out but certainly from the video that person is a person of interest, and our investigators would like to talk to them,” Monte said. 

Authorities are still working on identifying the arsonist.

The church released the following statement Monday evening.

“Our staff is working with Baton Rouge Police Department, Baton Rouge Fire Department, and arson investigators after a security camera captured video of suspicious activity at our Baton Rouge Campus. The incident resulted in no damage to our facilities, with minimal clean-up required, and with no disruption to on-campus activities. We are grateful for God’s protection over our people and facilities and thankful for our first responders.”

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