Federal investigators are offering a financial reward for any helpful information in their investigation of a recent fire at a nondenominational church in Tennessee.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released a statement Monday regarding a fire at Axis Church in Nashville in September. The ATF is offering a reward of $1,000 to anyone who provides helpful information leading to the arrest and conviction of responsible parties.
Members of the Metro Nashville Arson and Explosives Task Force and ATF officials responded when a fire occurred in the main lobby of Axis Church on Sept. 13.
“Upon reviewing surveillance video from the church, investigators determined that a bottle that was lit on fire was thrown through the front glass window at approximately 10 p.m. on September 13, 2021,” the ATF statement explains.
“For those providing information, include as many details as possible relating to the identity and/or whereabouts of the individual. If a reward is sought, please include your name and contact information.”
To be “eligible for the reward, information provided must lead to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for this incident.”
Around 2 a.m. on Sept. 14, the Nashville Fire Department responded to the fire at Axis Church, which occurred when an unknown party threw a Molotov cocktail through a window.
The ATF was immediately contacted by the firefighters because the arson took place at a church. Investigators dismissed an earlier report claiming that it was an accidental fire, according to local media outlet WKRN.
The fire damaged many of their chairs in the worship space to the point that they were permanently unusable. The blaze also damaged the technical equipment used to livestream church services.
Lead Pastor Jeremy Rose posted a video on the church’s Facebook page on Sept. 14 stating that he believed the arson was “a remarkable reminder of why we’re here in the city of Nashville and not somewhere else.”
“We’re here to bring hope to everybody, including people who think this is the way forward,” explained Rose, pointing to the arson damage.
Rose added that the church would hold services as scheduled on the following Sunday, albeit with no child care and worship being “a little bit more brief.”
In a Facebook post from Sept. 16, the church explained that it would have “one shortened service at 10:00 AM” and encouraged people to bring their own chairs.
“Progress is being made throughout the building, and we have been given the green light from ServPro under government safety approval that we will be able to open part of our building that has completed restoration and undergone full air quality testing for this Sunday,” the church stated at the time.
Although the fire happened about two months ago, the church is still working to fix the damage, WSMV reports.
"That dirty smoke throughout our whole building has destroyed tens of thousands of dollars worth of stuff — from pews to Bibles to copiers to furniture to rugs," Rose told the news outlet. "We've had to strip everything down to studs and have to rebuild."