Chinese Student Faces Federal Arson Charges After Setting Historic Church On Fire

Chinese Student Faces Federal Arson Charges After Setting Historic Church On Fire

We keep hearing that the people in the United States on student visas are here to enrich their learning and return home without disrupting American life, but a recent incident in Montgomery, Alabama, tells a different tale.

A woman in the United States on a student visa, and living in Auburn is criminally charged with setting fire to a historic Baptist church building.

Xiaoqin Yan, 27, is charged with second-degree arson in state court. On Friday, Middle District of Alabama Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra J. Stewart announced the federal charge against Yan.

“An individual violates Section 844(i) if she or he maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property used in interstate or foreign commerce or in any activity affecting interstate or foreign commerce,” according to a statement issued by Stewart.

Yan was initially arrested on October 4th on state charges. Her state bond has been increased in state court from $30,000 to $150,000.

That’s a hefty increase at four hundred percent.

The fire was discovered shortly before 3 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, at First Baptist Church on South Perry Street in Montgomery, the church where Gov. Kay Ivey attends.

Pastor Mark L. Bethea posted on Facebook that the fires were started in the sanctuary and the historic Stakely Sanctuary. Firefighters, he said, arrived quickly and minimized what he said could have been a catastrophic event.

Bethea said the blaze destroyed several pews and damaged the carpet in the sanctuary and did some damage to the carpet in the Stakely Sanctuary. There was smoke and soot throughout the church and the reception office was destroyed.

According to charging documents against Yan, she used an “open-flame to ignite an ignitable liquid,” causing $25,000 in damage to First Baptist Church on Perry Street.

And broke federal law to boot. It is a federal crime to set fire to a place of worship.

As of this writing, Yan’s student visa has been revoked.

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