Baptist Church Annex Destroyed by Arson
SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (AP) _ Arson destroyed a Baptist church annex where the the fire alarm was disabled and the walls covered with cryptic graffiti before the fire was set early Sunday morning, authorities said.
The Manor Baptist Church was empty when firefighters arrived and there were no injuries in the fire, reported at 2:20 a.m., authorities said.
The fire was being investigated as a possible hate crime, although the church’s pastor had received no threats or other indications that someone was targeting the church, said Detective Bob Cach, who was heading the investigation.
″We can’t rule out the possibility the church was singled out because it was a Baptist church,″ Cach said.
The fire destroyed a building containing offices and a library, he said.
The church consists of four buildings united by a single roof, Cach said. The main sanctuary was not targeted, he said.
Firefighters recovered two intact and two partly burned fuel containers, Cach said. Another building housing a kitchen and multipurpose room was covered with flammable liquid, he said.
Investigators also recovered some fingerprints, but Cach said police had not yet identified any suspects.
Cach could not immediately decipher the meaning of the symbols and numbers left on the walls, although he said it could indicate a gang-related crime.
Jewish synagogues in San Leandro, a suburb on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, have been targeted by anti-Semitic arsonists in the past, Cach said.