Virginia teen pleads guilty to setting black church on fire
New Holy Deliverance Outreach Ministry (WDBJ)
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On Tuesday morning a Virginia teen admitted in court to setting a church on fire that was home to a predominantly black congregation, according to WDBJ.
Jean-Claude Bridges, 18, pleaded guilty to starting a fire at the New Holy Deliverance Outreach Ministry in Axton, Virginia last May.
Bridges was 17 at the time of the incident and said that he and another male, 16, were responsible for the fire that happened on May 20 at 1:20 a.m.
According to a recent release by the Martinsville Bulletin, U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said that Bridges admitted that ”he burned down the church because of the race, color and ethnicity of its congregation. Mr. Bridges’ racial bias led him to commit the dangerous crime of arson.”
Bridges could face a maximum of 20 years in prison and faces a fine of up to $250,000.
“When he set fire to the New Holy Deliverance Outreach Ministry, he endangered neighbors and first responders,” Heaphy said. “This act of prejudice offended the entire community. This office will protect the civil rights of everyone and vigorously prosecute crimes like that committed by Mr. Bridges. Racism has no place in Axton or anywhere else in the Western District of Virginia.”