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. The author of this post is Ryan Saavedra
An alleged illegal alien from China is facing a federal second-degree arson charge after allegedly setting fire to the historic First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, which is attended by the state's governor.
"According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Xiaoquin Yan, 27, is charged under a statute of law that makes setting fire to any building 'used in interstate or foreign commerce or in any activity affecting interstate or foreign commerce' a federal offense,"
The Montgomery Advertiser reported. "According to federal court documents, the church falls under this category for protection because it sends money through reoccurring wire transfers to India to fund local churches that were founded by First Baptist Church."
Yan allegedly set fire to the church on September 30, 2021. A sworn statement by a federal agent says that Yan raised suspicions with a comment about "rich white men" running the church.
The Montgomery Advertiser added:
Four fires were set across the church resulting in damage, but the majority of the church was saved in part to flame-resistant carpeting. According to a complaint filed in the federal case Friday morning, Yan is suspected of using gasoline to start the fires. Pastor Mark Bethea told agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that he came in contact with "a small in stature Asian female" after the Sunday church service on September 26, according to the federal complaint.
"Bethea advised that he ultimately escorted the female from the premises of the church,"
according to court records. "According to Bethea, approximately a couple weeks before the fire, church security had previously interacted with an Asian female that was acting suspiciously and obtained the license plate number from the vehicle she was driving."
Montgomery County District Judge Monet M. Gaines increased bond for Yan up to $150,000 and ordered a mental health assessment be conducted.
The Associated Press reported:
Gaines ruled after prosecutors argued that Yan, charged with setting fires at the First Baptist Church of Montgomery, was a Chinese citizen who is in the United States illegally after overstaying a revoked student visa. Originally held on $30,000 bail, Yan has "strong ties of an overseas country," and additional bond was needed to guarantee her appearance in court, prosecutors said.
Local media noted that the church is the home church of Republican Governor Kay Ivey.
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