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Fires, other incidents investigated after protests

It is unclear if the fires are related, but they are being investigated as arson fires

The Associated Press

FERGUSON, Mo. — Several suspected arsons and other incidents are being investigated following the violent protests that erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, this week after a grand jury declined to indict the police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Here’s a look at some of those incidents, though it’s unclear if all are directly related to the protests:

Body in car
St. Louis County police say a homicide investigation is underway into the death of 20-year-old DeAndre Joshua, whose severely burned body was found Tuesday morning in a car near where Brown was killed in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis. An autopsy determined that Joshua, who lived in nearby University City, had been shot in the head. Police haven’t said whether they believe his death is linked to the protests Monday night. A police spokesman said there were no developments in the case Thursday.

Church fire
The church attended by Brown’s father and his family was among dozens of businesses damaged or destroyed by fires Monday night. Flood Christian Church’s pastor, Rev. Carlton Lee, said he believes the small church was targeted, noting that he was among those calling for the officer’s arrest — which he said prompted more than 70 death threats against him. Federal investigators say evidence suggests the church was forced into. But it remains unclear if the church was randomly targeted or if the fire was linked to the church’s ties to Brown’s family, said John Ham, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Outbreak of blazes
At least a dozen commercial buildings were destroyed by fires amid the protests, along with a dozen vehicles. St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman said Thursday that the fires are being investigated as arsons, and that a hard-hit stretch of heavily traveled roadway remained closed as “an active crime scene.”