A man from North Carolina was arrested on Friday on a charge of threatening to torch a predominantly African American church in Virginia after one of its ministers took part in a local prayer vigil for George Floyd, federal court documents show.
John Malcolm Bareswill, 63, who owns a package delivery service in Virginia Beach, is accused of threatening arson against a Baptist church in that resort city in an anonymous phone call placed to the congregation on June 7.
The incident was reported to authorities, who later traced the call to Bareswill's mobile phone, the FBI said.
Investigators, seizing the phone as evidence, found Bareswill had used it to search the internet for such phrases as "Who said all whites are racist" and "Black Lives Matter protest held in Virginia," as well as for information about at least three predominantly African American religious institutions, including the church he allegedly threatened, according to the affidavit.
Authorities said the threatening call came days after a church leader partook in a prayer vigil and peaceful rally that included a moment of silence for Floyd, the black man whose death under the knee of a white Minneapolis policeman sparked a storm of nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality.