Cape Girardeau Man Faces Federal Hate Crime Charges | St. Louis Metro …

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cape Girardeau, pictured in July 2012.

A southeast Missouri man is facing federal hate crime and arson charges for burning down a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last year in Cape Girardeau.

Christopher Scott Pritchard, 46, also faces state charges of arson, burglary and character damage motivated by discrimination.

Court records list Pritchard as homeless.

According to the Associated Press, in the days before the fire, church officials asked police for additional protection because Pritchard threatened a bishop and said he was going to “burn the church down.”

The AP has also reported that Pritchard was arrested with $1,000 worth of items taken from the church, including a laptop, hand tools and apples.

If found guilty, Pritchard faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison for using fire to commit a federal felony, according to a Thursday press release from the Department of Justice. He could also confront up to an additional 20 years for “deliberately obstructing parishioners of the church in the enjoyment of their free exercise of religious beliefs.”

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