Man facing hate crime, arson charges in fire at predominantly Black church
A man is facing hate crime and arson charges after he allegedly set fire to a predominately Black church in Massachusetts named after civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Dushko Vulchev of Maine, 44, was charged in a criminal complaint with four counts of damage to religious property and one count committing a federal felony using fire, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.
Vulchev has been charged in connection with the extensive damage caused to the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church in Springfield during the early morning hours of Dec. 28.
Update 14 Concord Ter. Church fire pic.twitter.com/5n0Tp39Um6
— SPRINGFIELD FIRE (@SFD_HQ) December 28, 2020
Investigators believe that in addition to setting that blaze, Vulchev is responsible for several other fires set on church property and for a series of tires being slashed at the church and in the area.
Officials were able to confirm Vulchev’s presence near the crime scene by reviewing security video and data from his mobile phone, according to the statement.
The investigation reportedly uncovered Vulchev’s hatred of Black people, officials said, including recent messages from Vulchev in calling to “eliminate all N——.” His devices also reportedly contained images demonstrating Vulchev’s racial animus toward Black people.
If convicted, Vulchev faces a total of up to 30 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.