A North Carolina man faces up to 10 years in federal prison after being charged with threatening to burn down a predominantly African American church in Virginia.
According to New York Daily News, 63-year-old John Bareswill has been accused of calling the church and yelling racial slurs just days after one of the church’s ministers took part in a public prayer vigil and peaceful demonstration for George Floyd.
According to the report, “The suspect’s horrific threats were overheard by two adults and three young children after his call was placed on speakerphone inside the Baptist church.”
That’s when Bareswill threatened to burn down the church, according to authorities.
A review of his phone records two days later showed Bareswill had searched the internet for phrases including, “Who said all whites are racist,” “Black Lives Matter protest held in Virginia” and “Who organized the protests from mount trashmore to town center,” according to the affidavit.
U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger said his office takes “all threats of violence seriously” and would continue to “respond quickly.”
“Threats meant to silence or intimidate people because of their race or religion, like the one allegedly made here, have our highest priority,” he said in a statement. “No one should be made to fear for their safety or the safety of their church for speaking out, and we will seek justice for victims of those who allegedly violate that right.”
The report states: “Bareswill was charged with threatening to use fire to kill, injure or intimidate any individual or damage or destroy a building.”
If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in federal prison.