U.S. Attorney charges man with civil rights violations for church arsons

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Federal prosecutors have charged a Nashville man with civil rights violations connected to the arson of four Nashville area churches, including St. Ignatius of Antioch Church, in 2019. 

Alan Douglas Fox, 28, was charged by criminal information with setting fire to Crievewood United Methodist Church on June 17, 2019; Crievewood Baptist Church on June 25, 2019; St. Ignatius of Antioch on June 25, 2019; and Priest Lake Community Baptist Church on June 26, 2019, according to a statement from Acting U.S. Attorney Mary Jane Stewart for the Middle District of Tennessee and Assistant Attorney General Kristen M. Clarke of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. 

Fox is also charged with carrying and using a firearm during the arson of Crievewood Baptist Church, according to the statement. 

The Information alleges that Fox intentionally set the fires because of the religious character of the churches. 

If convicted, Fox faces up to 20 years in prison for each fire, and a consecutive five-year sentence for the firearms violation. 

This case was investigated by the FBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, and the Nashville Fire Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Beth Myers and Trial Attorney Kyle Boynton of the Department’s Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case. 

Fox is currently in state custody, facing eight counts of arson, four counts of burglary, one count of a weapons charge, one count of theft over $1,000. A status hearing on those charges is scheduled before Judge Steve Dozier on Sept. 9. 

No date has been set yet for a hearing on the federal charges of civil rights violations.  

At St. Ignatius, the fire was confined to the concrete storage room where it was started. 

“That room was completely on fire,” said St. Ignatius Pastor Father Titus Augustine, C.M.I. “We were lucky the fire was in that one room.” 

There was smoke damage to the downstairs area of the church and smoke spread through the duct work to other areas of the building.  

The cleanup after the fire took almost two months, Father Augustine said. The cost of the damages was more than $216,000. 

Surveillance video from St. Ignatius led to the identification of the suspect. 

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