KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knoxville officials are investigating a case of arson at a predominantly African-American church. Officials say someone set fire to bales of hay outside College Hill Seventh Day Adventist, 1837 Brandau Street, and also burned the church van.
“Horror, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what’s going on?'” said Pastor Cleveland Hobdy III.
Knoxville Fire Department spokesperson D.J. Corcoran says bags of dirt and bales of hay were left on fire outside the church’s doors. The church’s van was also seriously damaged.
“When I look at this I see, I think of an intention to try to destroy this entire church. It makes it sad. It’s sad either way that someone would put their mind to try to damage a church that’s trying to help people,” said Hobdy.
Arson investigators say the incident appears to be vandalism and not a hate crime, despite worries from church members. Officials told WATE 6 On Your Side that in a hate crime, there is usually an indication left behind of why the victim was targeted.