Three historically Black churches in the rural Landy Parish near Lafayette, Louisiana, have burned in suspicious fires over a two-week span.
The churches — St. Mary Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church — have all burned since March 26, with officials terming the fires as “suspicious” and stepping up the law enforcement presence at other churches in the area.
Additionally, officials say a fourth fire was “intentionally set” on March 31 at the Vivian United Pentecostal Church, a predominately white church in Caddo Parish, roughly three hours away, NPR reported.
Federal authorities also joined the investigation of the fires, for which the causes have yet to be officially determined. So far, they have been unable to rule out the possibility of arson or that the incidents are related.
“There is clearly something happening in this community,” Louisiana state Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said in a statement. “That is why it is imperative that the citizens of this community be part of our effort to figure out what it is.”
St. Landry Parish, which is 54 percent White and 41 percent Black, is located in the heart of Cajun and Creole country.