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MA police arrest suspect potentially involved in MLK church fire


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    SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts (WSHM ) — A suspect was arrested on Thursday for completely unrelated crimes that could be potentially linked to a fire that occurred at a Springfield church on Monday.

On Monday morning, December 28, Springfield’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church was destroyed, but the question remains who caused the fire?

Mayor Domenic Sarno released a statement to Western Mass News after the Springfield Police Department arrested a suspect for unrelated crimes, who could have been involved in Monday’s fire, saying:

“My police and fire departments have been working very hard with our federal and state authorities to bring any individual or individuals to justice on this matter. I have just been informed by Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood and Fire Commissioner BJ Calvi that during this investigation an individual has been arrested for unrelated crimes, and other charges could be pending depending on the outcome of this investigation. I congratulate all our local, state, and federal partners that have worked around the clock on this matter.”

He continued in the statement, saying:

“As I have stated previously, there is zero-tolerance with regards to any crimes of this nature. Further information will follow in this ongoing investigation. Again, in these situations, special attention will be given to houses of worship. As I have recently started and just as important we will do whatever we can to help assist Rev. Dr. Terrlyn Avery with the rebuilding efforts with the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church. Commissioners Clapprood, Calvi, and I have spoken to and updated Rev. Dr. Avery on the ongoing situation.”

Rev. Dr. Terrlyn L. Curry Avery, Pastor for the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church, also released a statement about the ongoing investigation, saying:

“The leaders of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Presbyterian Church (MLK Church) and I have been informed that an individual has been arrested in connection with the burning of the church. We understand that the investigation is ongoing. We want to thank the local and federal law enforcement officials for their diligence in this investigation. I want to thank Mayor Sarno, who is keeping me informed about the investigation and is in daily contact with me. I also thank him for his promise to continue to assist the church with its rebuilding. Although we have suffered a tremendous loss and certainly believe that whoever committed this atrocity should be held accountable for their actions, we also recognize that the person is a wounded soul. As such, we offer forgiveness, along with our prayers for his spiritual, emotional, and psychological healing.”

She also continued in the statement, saying:

“I want to thank community leaders and my fellow faith leaders who have expressed their concern for, and support of, our members and about the impact that this burning has on a community that is already besieged. I thank everyone else who has offered prayers, kind words, and support to the members of MLK Church.”

Rev. Dr. Terrlyn L. Curry Avery announced a page set up for donations to help rebuild the church. If anyone is interested in donating, click

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