East Texas church arsons getting national media attention - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

East Texas church arsons getting national media attention

By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The church arsons have terrified East Texans, and now, the situation is getting national attention. ABC News has a crew in East Texas gathering details about the nine church arsons we have had since January.

Burnt church remains serve as a reminder of the work of arsonists.

"The community of faith goes from coast to coast, this is not just one area," said David Mahfood, pastor of Tyland Baptist Church.

"What gets your attention is the sheer number - that there have been so many over a shortly relative period of time," said Ryan Owens, an ABC News correspondent.

Owens and his crew searched through the ashes of the churches. They spoke to East Texans, pastors like David Mahfood, and will put together a piece for Nightline on ABC.

"While the assumption is that the people who are doing this are local, you never know what someone in another state or another city in Texas might see this on Nightline and might recognize something and might lead to cracking this case," said Owens.

They asked investigators many of the same questions we have, gathering information for the country.

"The ATF is keeping everything pretty close to the vest on this," said Owens. "It's not as thought they told us a bunch of deep dark secrets that they haven't told you guys"

The most recent clue? Sketches of the "individuals of interest."

"I thought how incredibly young they are to have that much anger and that much hatred," said Mahfood.

Wednesday night, they will visit a church as congregation members take watch, guarding their property with cars and trucks.

"That I think is something the rest of the country might be a little surprised to find out about," said Owens. "I'm not sure you would see that in other parts of the country."

Right now, crews will not say when the story will air on Nightline. Of course, when it does, we will have it for you right after our 10 o'clock newscast.

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