Authorities are confident they have the right man who, they believe, set the fire that destroyed an African-American church in the Greenville last month. As MPB's Mark Rigsby reports, the mayor there says the city will heal while the suspect is held accountable.
Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons says he's not surprised 45 year old Andrew McClinton, a resident of Leland, and a member of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, is accused of setting fire to the church. Simmons calls the crime a horrific and cowardly act against the city, regardless of race.
“This crime is against folks in this community, black and white. The position we take in the Mayor’s office is that we’re here to represent everyone. This is a crime against everyone in the City of Greenville and it won’t be tolerated.”
The church burned down on November 1st. The words "Vote Trump" were spray painted on the side of the church. Greenville Police Chief Delando Wilson says it's unclear who wrote the political message. Wilson says McClinton was on the radar for police within 24 hours of the crime. He will not talk about what investigators know about McClinton's motivation, but he apparently acted alone.
“We wanted to make sure we had the right person that committed this crime, that was so heinous. We wanted to make sure we were getting it right, and we know we have it right to this point.”
Greenville Fire Chief Ruben Brown says samples tested negative for accelerant, such as gasoline or paint thinner. Brown says the fire could've been started by direct flame contact or an accelerant that wasn't tested. McClinton is charged with arson of a place of worship. He's being held at the Washington County Detention Center under $250,000 bond.