Members of a predominantly Black church in Monroe, Louisiana were left searching for answers after a white teenager targeted the church's primary sanctuary in an arson attack.
The local fire department arrived to find the main St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church building burned to the ground on Tuesday, with witnesses confirming to have seen an Entergy Corp truck driving away from the scene of the crime. A second, much older building belonging to the church was spared in the fire.
Police later identified the driver of the vehicle as a 15-year-old white male from a nearby parish, who they believe doused the church building in gasoline just minutes before lighting it on fire, according to USA Today affiliate News Star of Monroe.
Church member Mary Alexander told authorities that several members of the congregation had a meeting in the building the night before, with other witnesses claiming to have spoken to the teen just before the building went up in flames.
"We don't know why only God knows why," Alexander told MyArkLaMiss. "What's going through that person's mind so we just ask for prayers for that person as well as our church family."
Investigators found that the teen was also responsible for the theft of two Entergy trucks in total and believe he used the second truck to run into a series of cars in a local high school parking lot. The suspect was arrested and will reportedly face an arson charge.