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Police Arrest Man Accused Of Setting Election Day Fires At 7 Locations, Including 2 Churches

 An alleged arsonist has been arrested after reportedly setting seven fires on Election Day, including at two churches, in Jackson, Mississippi.

Devin McLaurin, 23, was arrested Tuesday evening in connection with the fires, according to the Jackson Police Department, along with the help of Hinds County Sheriff’s Department deputies.

“I’ve been here for 30 years. This is a major occurrence,” Patrick Armon, assistant fire chief for the Jackson Fire Department, told WAPT-TV. “This is not something we normally go to. We have about a third of our department on sites.”

Calls were received beginning around 2:45 a.m. Central Time on Tuesday morning concerning the fires. All flames were extinguished by 6 a.m. with the exception of Epiphany Lutheran Church, a historic location that burned for nearly four hours. No injuries were reported.

Ervin Ricks, communications director for Greater Bethlehem, the other church damaged by fire, said it appeared someone entered the church building and set the fire from the inside.

“Actually broke into the church and got in and started the fire that way,” Ricks told WAPT-TV.

One of the fires occurred at the Jackson State University baseball field. It is being investigated by the state’s Fire Marshalls since it is state-owned property, according to the New York Post.

The other four locations included a house on Pascagoula Street, a gas station on Terry Road, a structure at Central Street and Dalton, and a structure at Terry and Cherry Streets, the report added.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba (D) addressed the fires during a Tuesday city council meeting.

“We don’t yet know who or why, but I want to thank the firefighters because they were able to respond to that and still get back to the stations, so that people could set up for voting precincts,” Lumumba stated, according to the Associated Press. The mayor’s comments came before McLaurin’s arrest.

“The citizens are outraged that there is a suspected arsonist in our midst,” Ward 5 Councilman Vernon Hartley, who represents the areas near where the fires occurred, told the Mississippi Clarion Ledger.

“We encourage all communities in the greater Jackson area to acknowledge that an action like this is not an action against one community. It affects us all,” he added.

No polling locations were reportedly impacted due to the fires.

The fires were reported as tensions run high with American voters headed to the ballot box during the midterm elections. Republicans are expected to win a majority in the House, while the 50-50 Senate may also tip toward the GOP.

In Mississippi, four congressional seats are at stake. More than 1.9 million active voters were listed in the state, according to NBC News. No senators are up for re-election in Mississippi and the state’s governor’s race is not until 2023.

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