Investigation continues into arson at Mississippi church

Updated: May. 21, 2020 at 6:54 PM CDT
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HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. (WMC) - The search continues for answers after a fire destroyed a Mid-South church.

Bulldozers sifted through rubble Thursday as the investigation continues into the arson at First Pentecostal Church in Holly Springs.

The church’s attorney Stephen Crampton of the Thomas More Society says he believes the blaze is a direct result of the lawsuit the church filed against the city in April.

"To find that that graffiti is spray painted, 'I bet you stay home now you hypocrites' seems very clearly directed at this particular lawsuit and the church's stand for it's own constitutional rights," Crampton said.

The church’s pastor, Jerry Waldrop, filed that lawsuit which detailed complaints that local officers allegedly disrupted a mid-week bible study as well as the Church’s Easter service 10 days prior.

Crampton says the issue stems from the fact that the State of Mississippi deemed churches essential businesses while the City of Holly Springs did not.

“I do think, to be fair to the city, there was some lack of clarity in some of the governor’s initial executive orders,” Crampton said.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has been vocal with his opinion that the church does not have the right to shut down churches.

Thursday he tweeted about the ongoing arson investigation.

"What is this pandemic doing to us? We need prayer for this country," he tweeted.

Though the church is no longer standing, Crampton says an outside group has loaned a building for the church to use for the time being.

The church is also still fighting to meet in person while executive orders currently only allow drive-in services.

"We are in the 5th circuit court of appeals seeking an emergency preliminary injunction that will prevent the church to meet in person this coming Sunday," Crampton said.

WMC Action News 5 reached out to the Holly Springs city attorney Wednesday who didn't return our request for comment.

The arson investigation is ongoing.

Officials ask anyone with information on a possible suspect reach out to the Marshall County Sheriff's Department at 662-252-1311.

An award is available for any tip that leads to an arrest.

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