A Maine man has been charged by federal authorities for allegedly setting fire last year to a Massachusetts church with a predominantly Black congregation.
According to the Justice Department, Dushko Vulchev, 44, of Houlton, Maine, was charged with four counts of damage to religious property involving fire and one count of use of fire to commit a federal felony in connection with the blaze at the Martin Luther King Presbyterian Church.
Authorities say Vulchev intentionally set fire to the church in the early morning hours Dec. 28, 2020, causing extensive damage. They also allege he set fire to the backdoor of the church on Dec.13, and set two additional fires to the back of the building two days later. He is also accused of slashing tires of vehicles near church property.
According to Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel Mendell, searches of authorities Vulchev's vehicle and electronic devices found messages "demonstrating Vulchev’s hatred of Black people."
Vulchev is in state custody and is expected to make an initial appearance in federal court in Springfield at a later date.
Vulchev was arrested in January by Pittsfield police.