Disgruntled employee suspected in KC church vandalism, racist graffiti

Racist messages were left on the entrance of Concord Fortress of Hope church.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Authorities have arrested a person suspected in the burglary and an arson at a Kansas City church.  While Fox 4 is not naming him because he has not been charged, police say he is a 48-year old man who may have also been a disgruntled employee at the church.

Sunday morning, the congregation at Concord Fortress of Hope in south Kansas City found graffiti covering the east side of their church when they came to Sunday services. That graffiti included racial slurs.  Inside, the church was burglarized and someone lit a chair on fire.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) is investigating the church fire. ATF spokesman John Ham said it was a small fire, but any fire in a house of worship is significant.

“Churches are sort of the cornerstone of our community,” he said, “and when someone attacks the church, they attack that whole community.”

Ham then addressed the graffiti, that appeared to include some poorly-drawn swastikas, several letter “K”s, and the phrase “You next, n—–.”.

“It’s hurtful to this congregation; it’s hurtful to the community, and it needs to be part of this investigation, obviously,” he said.

The church is near 107th and Longview Road, near the Ruskin Heights neighborhood. Its location, coupled with the time this happened, means it can be difficult to find witnesses.

Ham noted, “It’s sort of a remote area; it’s kind of tucked back, out of the way. So if you happened to be out this way and you happened so see someone out here in the wee hours of the morning, or late last (Saturday) night, they were probably not supposed to be here.”

There is a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. Tips can be called in to either 1-888-ATF-FIRE or (816) 474-TIPS.

Ham also noted there is surveillance video from inside the church, but that hasn’t been released yet.