Investigators double reward offered in McCalla church arson
By Honora Gathings, Venton Blandin
MCCALLA - AL — Three fires in three weeks. Firefighters have put out blazes at a vacant house, a former nursing home and a church. All of the locations are in McCalla. Firefighters are not looking for a cause. They already know and are working arson investigation. Deputies released a composite sketch of the accused arsonist. They want to know who the man is and where he is located. Sheriff Mike Hale is concerned someone is pouring gasoline and striking matches in the wrong places."What's interesting about this crime is we have three different witnesses that have given information and we made a composite drawing of the offender," said Sheriff Hale. Deputies followed firefighters to a former nursing home on Coleman Lake Road July 9th. Deputies learned of another suspicious fire down the road at a vacant house a few days later. Investigators worked the same type of case at Bellview Baptist Church last weekend. They aren't the only ones paying attention. "All the witnesses agree it is a white male. All the witnesses agree that it is dark Chevrolet Impala," added Sheriff Hale.Deputies are tracking red and tan Chevy Impalas and hoping a composite sketch will help catch the man setting the fires. Hale says a highly visible mark on the suspect's right cheek is critical. He encourages the public, especially in McCalla, to think hard."He could have been an educator. He could have gone to McAdory Elementary School. He could have gone to the high school. He could have attended church there. I want anyone who that has worked with kids , who might be in the 30s, to put on your thinking caps," added Hale. Investigators want the public to know there is easy money to be made by helping deputies arrest the man in the sketch. Members of the ATF and Jefferson County Sheriff's Office have put aside $10,000 to offer as a reward. The suspect is about 6'0" and in his 30's. He has a knot on his right cheek. Detectives also say he may be driving a tan or red Chevy Impala with damage to the front. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 205-254-7777.
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