Thursday, March 25, 2010
Fire bomb fails to ignite church
By SUE WATSON
A molotov cocktail was thrown at a window of the Old St. Joseph’s Church (Little Yellow Fever House and Martyrs Museum) sometime Wednesday morning, March 17.
The cocktail failed to ignite the building located at 305 East College Avenue in Holly Springs. It bounced off the frame of a side window and burned leaves near the foundation, according to Marshall County fire investigator Tracy Jeffries.
Jeffries, along with an investigator and another official with the state Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, collected forensic evidence Wednesday morning.
Investigators said a bottle containing a wick and flammable liquid smelling like gasoline failed to break and spread the fire.
The charred wick hung from the lower seal which was soot stained. Dried leaves below the window were burned. All evidence collected was sent to the state crime laboratory for analysis.
Jim Nolan, who is restoring a home on one side of the old church and doing similar work on the house on the west side, said he noticed the burnt leaves when walking from one yard to the next early Wednesday morning.
“It caught my eye, then I looked up and noticed the rag and I passed it along to Kenny (fire chief Holbrook),” he said. “They came right on out and here we are.”
Jeffries couldn’t speculate on the scene on who might have thrown the cocktail or what a motive could have been. He said inside the church, under the window, was a display of a yellow fever scene with dummies lying on straw on the floor. Had the bottle broken through the window pane, there was fuel below, he said.
Luckily, the bomb glanced off the window frame and fell away to the ground.
Jeffries said the state fire marshal’s office is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) involved in the crime. Callers may leave tips with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department at 662-252-1311. Callers will remain anonymous and all information will be kept in strict confidence, he said.
The little church is dedicated to the memory of seven Catholic martyrs who gave their lives while tending to others with Yellow Fever during the 1878 epidemic. The little wooden church was restored and dedicated to the memory of six Sisters of Charity and the priest, who died during the epidemic after refusing to leave the stricken town. It was built in 1841-1842 by Christ Episcopal Church in Holly Springs and moved to its present location in 1857, serving for over 100 years as the Old St. Joseph Church.
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