Cops and Courts, News

Men arrested for starting church fire

Westover Police Chief Rick Panico said three men were arrested on March 29 morning in connection to a fire set on March 17 in Destiny Deliverance Ministries church, located at 110 Monongahela Avenue.

According to Panico, Joseph Wilson Jr., 21, Jordan Lipscomb, 18, Michael Pyles, 20, have been charged in connection to the fire. Wilson and Lipscomb are charged with 2nd degree arson. Pyles is charged as an accessory.

He explained that officers are still looking for a second vehicle tied to the fire, and potentially, at least one additional suspect.

Panico said there doesn’t appear to be any indication that the arson was racially motivated. He explained that Destiny Deliverance Ministries is an African-American church and the men in custody are white.

When asked if the arson is being considered a hate crime or if there was any indication that race was a motive, he said the investigation launched by the Westover Police and the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s office has not indicated as much.

“I’m not going to pull that trigger for one main reason, I don’t know that it is. I’m not going to charge someone with something that I don’t believe,” Panico said, later adding, “If I had it, I would, but I don’t have it.”

A message left with Monongalia County Prosecutor Perri Jo DeChristopher’s office was not returned in time for this report.