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Man charged with hurling Molotov cocktails at North Carolina churches, police say

Terry Wayne Raeford
Booking photo of Terry Wayne Raeford |

A man investigators say was caught on video hurling Molotov cocktails at two churches in North Carolina has been arrested.

Cumberland County Sheriff Ennis Wright announced on Facebook Monday that 57-year-old Terry Wayne Raeford of Fayetteville was arrested in connection with the vandalism of the two churches.

In a Facebook post Sunday, Wright noted that sheriff’s investigators initially responded to the first incident at Grays Creek Church in Hope Mills just after 10:30 a.m. A half-hour later, New Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville reported a similar incident, Wright said.

Arson investigators obtained video footage from both churches, which showed a black male in his 50s pull a gray sedan with tinted windows into a parking lot. No injuries were reported in either incident. Security cameras captured the suspect’s vehicle at both locations, enabling them to identify Raeford as the man in the video.

Raeford was charged with “two counts of Manufacture, Assembly, Possession, Storage, Transportation, Sale, Purchase, Delivery, or Acquisition of Weapon of Mass Death and Destruction; Exceptions, and two counts of Malicious Damage of Occupied Property by Use of Explosive or Incendiary; Punishment.” 

Wright indicated that Raeford, who is being held at the Cumberland County Detention Center on a $200,000 bond, is cooperating with the investigation. He made his first appearance in court Tuesday afternoon.

The social media pages for both churches appeared to show predominantly black congregations. The motive for the vandalism remains unclear and it is unknown whether any hate crime charges would be filed.

The attack against the North Carolina churches marks the most recent acts of vandalism against places of worship.

The nondenominational Axis Church in Nashville reported a similar attack involving a Molotov cocktail last September. Federal investigators offered a financial reward for any information on who may have been responsible for the attack. Two months after the incident, church leaders were still working to repair the damage, which forced them to “strip everything down to studs” and rebuild.

New York City police are investigating after thieves decapitated angel statues and ripped a centuries-old solid gold tabernacle worth $2 million from the altar of a local Catholic church.

Last month, pro-abortion vandals targeted two separate churches in Colorado with graffiti messages like “Abortion Saves Lives” and “My Body My Choice.” Windows were broken and church statues were defaced as well.

The vandalism occurred days after Politico published the contents of a leaked draft majority opinion that indicated the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide in the coming weeks.

Since the publication of the draft opinion, reports of vandalism and other damage have been reported at churches and pro-life pregnancy centers across the U.S., including in Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

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