Maine man arrested for setting fire to Black church

(SPRINGFIELD, Mass.) — A Bulgarian national who was arrested Thursday faces hate crime offenses for setting several fires at a predominately Black church in Springfield, Massachusetts, last year.

Dushko Vulchev, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Maine, demonstrated a “hatred of Black people,” federal prosecutors said as they charged him with damage to religious property and use of fire to commit a federal felony.

The criminal complaint quoted a December 2020 message Vulchev allegedly wrote calling to “eliminate all N—s.” An electronic device contained images that prosecutors said demonstrated Vulchev’s racial animus toward Black people.

The arson Vulchev is accused of setting on Dec. 28, 2020, caused extensive damage to the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church in Springfield.

Prosecutors said Vulchev is also responsible for several other fires set on church property and for a series of tire slashings on church property and in the surrounding area.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.