Three burnt crosses were found outside a Los Angeles church Thursday, and authorities are now investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Firefighters responding to reports of a “rubbish fire” in front of Sylmar Christian Fellowship Church found smoldering wood and a worn out fire, Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) spokesperson Nicholas Prange said in a statement. The matter is under investigation by the LAFD and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
The LAPD announced Thursday evening in a Facebook post the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were also investigating the incident as a potential hate crime and that “all investigative resources will be utilized to capture the person or persons responsible.”
Community Alert on a Hate Crime Arson pic.twitter.com/5AgeeITbFr
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) July 7, 2023
LAPD issued a Community Alert on Twitter, condemning the incident as “hate crime arson” and calling for information from the public about the crime. (RELATED: Canadian Black Lives Matter Leader Reportedly Charged With Hate Crime Against Catholics)
“It’s a shame that people still want to do things like this in this day and age,” Pierre Howard, the church’s pastor said, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Howard also reportedly noted his congregation was multiracial and diverse, adding, “We have Hispanic, we have Black, we have white, we have come as you are. We don’t really care. We see everyone. If you’re in the building, you’re in the building.”
The church has been in the community for about 30 years and Howard became its pastor when his father passed away, the AP noted.