Springfield police, FBI investigating act of vandalism at Macedonia Church of God in Christ

| October 5, 2010

SPRINGFIELD – Springfield police and federal authorities are looking closely at what was termed “a minor act of vandalism” discovered Monday morning at the Macedonia Church of God in Christ, the same predominantly black church that was destroyed by arson hours after the 2008 election of President Obama.

Sgt. John M. Delaney, aide to Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet, said the vandalism was discovered at the Tinkham Road church by church officials at around 7:30 a.m.

He declined to describe what was vandalized but said it occurred sometime between Friday night and Monday morning. It is being investigated as malacious damage of property.

Agent Mark Karangekis of the Springfield office of the FBI said Springfield police are in charge of the investigation but the FBI is monitoring it.

He declined to speak about the case or provide any information beyond calling it “a minor act of vandalism at that location.”

Federal involvement in a minor vandalism case is understandable given the recent history of the church.

Hours after 2008 presidential election, the $2.5 million church building which was midway through construction was burned to the ground.

The case attracted national attention and three men who lived in the vicinity was arrested after a widespread investigation involving federal, state and local authorities.

Two defendants – Benjamin F. Haskell, 23, and Thomas A. Gleason Jr., 22 – have pleaded guilty to arson in federal court and are awaiting sentencing. A third defendant, Michael F. Jacques, 25, is poised for trial in the fall.

Gleason and Haskell admitted harboring a hatred for blacks and Hispanics, and that they set fire to the church to denounce Obama’s election. They told investigators they crept through the woods in the middle of the night, climbed through a window and doused the church with gasoline, then set it ablaze.

The church building is in the process of being reconstructed at the site of the old church.

Bishop Bryant Robinson Jr. of the Macedonia Church of God in Christ could not be reached for comment.



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