Rumors Fly in Church Arson Case

By: Chris Brennaman
By: Chris Brennaman

Early Tuesday, word came from west Alabama that the Choctaw County Sheriff's Department had been involved in a chase near the Mt. Sterling community. It was also believed that the chase ended when the car involved crashed.

Choctaw County Sheriff Donald Lolley told Newscenter 11 that there is no truth to the reports.

"The reports from this morning are strictly a rumor. A citizen reported seeing a suspicious vehicle near a church," Lolley said. "Upon investigating, the vehicle could not be located. We were not involved in a high speed chase. We have not arrested anyone."

Lolley said there was a wreck near Gilbertown Tuesday morning. Two vehicles were involved. The extent of any injuries is unknown.

Sheriff Lolley says his department, like most other law enforcement agencies in our area, has stepped up patrols around churches as a precaution.

Meanwhile, a 21-year-old man described as mentally disturbed was jailed Tuesday in White Plains, Ala., on suspicion of setting a fire at a church there, but investigators say he is not connected to the other fires.

Authorities say the fire Monday night in White Plains was a copycat case. It did not fit the profile of the other 10 fires.

Officials in Calhoun County say the church there was abandoned and it was not a Baptist church when active. The structure was damaged, but not destroyed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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