Suspected vandals light Murfreesboro church bus afire with burning Bible

| February 26, 2010

Murfreesboro Police investigators want to find out who is responsible for using a Christian Bible to start a fire Thursday evening on a church bus belonging to Middle Tennessee Baptist Church.

The bus caretaker for that church, which is located at 706 Richard Road, told officers he was at the rear of the church when two members of the congregation, Jose and Shawn Dominquez, pulled up and asked him had he been welding on bus number one, because “they saw smoke coming out from the front doors,” Murfreesboro Police Officer Michele L. Ratleph reported.

The caretaker, Art Barnes said he had not been welding and all three ran over to the bus to find that it was on fire “under the driver’s seat and front top step aisle area,” Ratleph reported.

“Mr. Dominquez grabbed a broom and began to try to sweep out a Bible that had been used to start the fire,” Ratleph reported. “The Bible was burning.”

As that was taking place, two male juveniles approached, grabbed a fire extinguisher and were attempting to help put the fire out, according to the police report.

“Mr. Dominquez then made the comment, ‘I’m going to go check the cameras,’” Ratleph reported. “The two juveniles left in a hurry.”

No cameras were actually in place and no evidence could be collected from the bus, according to Ratleph. The suspects, described in the police report as “juveniles,” were identified as “one white male, about 6-foot tall, wearing a hoodie and sweats,” and “a black male, about 6-foot tall, wearing a hoodie and blue jeans.”

“The witnesses believe they were involved,” Ratleph reported.

Barnes told investigators that he called police to the church approximately a month ago in reference to about “60 college students that were being obnoxious and possibly involved in a fight.”

Murfreesboro Police spokesman Kyle Evans said officers responded to the back side of the church, near 707 Crown Court in reference to the call.

“We received several calls and when officers arrived there were several juveniles still in the area and parents were called to pick them up,” Evans said. “The complainant believes that some of the kids involved in the Jan. 15 incident may have been responsible for setting the bus on fire.”

Police are asking anyone with information to call CrimeStoppers at 893-STOP(7867) or the Criminal Investigation Division at 893-2717.

The damage to the bus was estimated at more than $500. Barnes did not wish to comment on the incident when contacted by The Daily News Journal Friday morning.

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Category: Church Security