SPRINGFIELD (CBS) – A Maine man is now facing federal charges after he allegedly set several fires and eventually destroyed a Springfield church in what prosecutors say was a racially motivated crime.
Dushko Vulchev, 44, is charged with four counts of damage to religious property involving fire and one count of use of fire to commit a federal felony.READ MORE: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
Springfield Police previously charged Vulchev after he allegedly tried to start a fire at the Martin Luther King Community Presbyterian Church on Concord Terrace on Dec. 13 along with two fires on Dec. 15.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts announced Thursday Vulchev is now charged with a December 28 fire that destroyed the same church. He is currently in state custody and will face a federal arraignment at a later date.READ MORE: NASA Rocket Launch Friday Night Should Be Visible Along East Coast
Prosecutors said Vulchev is also responsible for a series slashed tires on church property.
Investigators said a search of Vulchev’s electronic devices found messages demonstrating his “hatred of Black people,” including messages from December when he allegedly called to “eliminate all n——.” The devices also allegedly included images that prosecutors said demonstrated “Vulchev’s racial animus toward Black people.”
The Martin Luther King Community Presbyterian Church is a predominantly Black church.MORE NEWS: Brookline To Lift Outdoor Mask Mandate On May 21
Vulchev faces the possibility of 20 years in prison for the charge of damage to religious property involving fire, along with a potential 10-year sentence for use of fire to commit a federal felony.