The FBI is investigating four fires that occurred at predominantly black churches in the South in recent days, reports BuzzFeed. A spokesperson confirmed that the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are working together with local authorities to investigate the culprits and their motives.
"They're being investigated to determine who is responsible and what motives are behind them," an FBI spokesperson told BuzzFeed. "I'm not sure there is any reason to link them together at this point."
The fires in question happened at churches in Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina in the past few days. Of those four, three fires have been ruled arson by investigators (including the North Carolina fire that's being investigated as a possible hate crime). The cause of the fire at the Grover Grove Baptist Church in Warrenville, South Carolina has not yet been determined.
A fifth fire occurred at College Heights Baptist Church in Elyria, Ohio early Saturday morning. On Sunday, authorities were still trying to determine its cause.
The fires occurred in the wake of an allegedly racially-motivated shooting at a church in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old from Columbia, S.C., shot and killed nine people after attending their bible study group for an hour. Roof will likely face hate crime charges from the Justice Department.
Update 6/29/15: The Daily Kos reports a total of six fires within the last week at predominantly black churches in the south. In order they include:
- College Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tenn. (June 21)
- God's Power Church of Christ in Macon, Ga. (June 23)
- Briar Creek Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. (June 24)
- Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tenn. (June 24)
- Greater Miracle Temple Church in Tallahassee, Fla. (June 26)
- Glover Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Warrenville, S.C. (June 26)