A man set a Black church in Massachusetts on fire several times and now faces federal hate crime charges, according to prosecutors.
Dushko Vulchev, 44, of Maine, was charged with four counts of damage to religious property involving fire and use of fire to commit a federal felony. He was previously arrested on state counts.
Vulchev is accused of setting a fire at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Dec. 28, according to prosecutors. The church is named for the civil rights leader and has a predominantly Black congregation.
The church was significantly damaged in the blaze.
That, however, is not the only time Vulchev set fire the church, prosecutors noted. They also said he set a fire by the church on Dec. 13 and Dec. 15. He is also accused of slashing tires at the church.
Investigators used security videos and tracked Vulchev’s cellphone in the same area at the time of the fires, prosecutors say.
When police searched Vulchev’s vehicle, they found devices that showed his hatred of Black people, including one message that called to “eliminate all n******.”
Vulchev faces nearly 100 years in prison if he is convicted of all counts.