Local News

Boy says he was forced to set Fayetteville church on fire

Posted September 5, 2014 1:19 p.m. EDT
Updated September 5, 2014 6:33 p.m. EDT

— A 13-year-old boy who was found inside a burning Fayetteville church Thursday afternoon told his father that he was forced to set the fire.

The father spoke with WRAL News on Friday and said he believes his son, who told him he was taken to Noland Faith Chapel on Rim Road by three men who duct-taped his mouth and threatened to kill him if he didn't set fire to the sanctuary. The boy told his father that robbery was the motive.

Investigators have not commented on the account and said the boy will be charged. WRAL News is withholding the boy's name because of his age.

Ron McKinnon was working on the roof of Noland Faith Chapel Thursday afternoon when the building caught fire under him.

"A big pile of smoke coming and then another big pile of smoke coming out," he said. "You start hearing the windows crack and break, that is when I called the fire department."

The small church had significant fire damage in the sanctuary and smoke damage throughout the entire building, fire officials said.

"Luckily, there was somebody there to catch it at the very beginning, so the damage was kept to a minimum. But it charred up the center of the church around the pulpit pretty good," Fayetteville Fire Department investigator Ronald Lewis said.

The boy was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center with minor injuries. His father said the boy had duct-tape residue around his mouth and was suffering from post-traumatic stress. He said his son had been missing since Wednesday morning.

The State Bureau of Investigation is also looking into the incident, which is standard in church fires.