Catholic News Agency | Sep 23, 2019
.- Three Catholic Churches in El Paso were this year the targets of arson, FBI officials announced on Sept. 19.
“The unknown perpetrator(s) of these crimes are believed to have used an incendiary device in an attempt to set fire to three Westside Catholic churches,” the FBI said in a statement.
“Each church sustained damage caused from these devices. Thankfully, to date no one has been injured.”
The first incident occurred on May 7 at St. Matthew Catholic Church, and the next incident occurred just one week later on May 13 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Another arson was attempted on June 15 at St. Jude Catholic Church.
A spokesman for the Diocese of El Paso told the NY Times that each incident took place in the early morning hours.
In each case an attempt was made to throw a device like a Molotov cocktail through a church window. In two cases, the devices did not break the windows, but bounced onto the sidewalk instead. At St. Jude, the device broke the window and burned some pews inside the parish church.
The church arsons came in the months before Saturday Aug. 3, when an armed man killed 22 people and injured at least two dozen others when he opened fire on shoppers at an El Paso Walmart near the El Cielo Vista shopping center.
The shooting is suspected to have been racially motivated. Officials say that hours before the attack, the shooter published a document online detailing his hatred toward immigrants and Hispanics. Police said he appeared to have been targeting Latinos during the attack.