“In no way can we say that anyone linked to the protests is involved or responsible for this crime,” said Chief Reynoso. “We don’t know the motive at this point.”
The First Works Baptist Church was founded in 2017, according to its website.
Mr. Mejia said the church had been at its current site for three years. The church, a low-rise building on a street corner, resembles a storefront, with restaurants and homes nearby.
“It‘s not really going to deter us from doing what we always do,” Mejia said on Saturday. “We are not afraid of this. It‘s just a little bump in the road, and we still plan to have the church tomorrow, obviously not at this current location, but we still plan to have a church and once that’s all said and done, we let’s go back. “
The church is part of the New Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement, a network of 22 American churches and eight international churches known for their hateful rhetoric and calls on the government to round up and execute gays, the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization with a goal nonprofit that analyzes hate groups, reported in 2019.
Mr. Mejia is an outspoken sidekick of network leader Steven Anderson, an Arizona pastor who has been widely convicted of celebrating the 2016 shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Fla., Where 49 people have been killed, the Southern Poverty Law Center told me.
Mr Anderson also gained notoriety in 2009 for saying in a sermon that he prayed for the death of President Barack Obama and was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League in 2014 for what it called his “story. anti-Semitism ”.
Calls and an email to Mr Anderson’s church were not immediately returned.
Mr. Mejia and Mr. Anderson were among a number of church leaders who spoke at a ‘Make America Straight Again’ conference in Orlando in 2019, two days after the third anniversary of the Pulse massacre. , according to the legal center.