Suspect in MLK Jr Church arson charged with hate crime

Crime

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The suspect for the arson of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church has been charged with hate crime.

The suspect, 44-year-old Dushko Vulchev of Houlton, Maine, was also charged with four counts of damage to religious property involving fire and one count of use of fire to commit a federal felony.

The church has a predominately Black congregation which is noted in the affidavit because the first charge is for “whoever intentionally destroys any religious real property because of the race of individuals associated with the property.”

The investigation found messages from Vulchev demonstrated alleged hatred towards Black people including alleged recent messages including racial slurs that called for the elimination of Black people. Vulchev has already been charged with various other alleged arson and tire slashings on the church’s property and around the area. Investigation found that Vulchev was allegedly at or near the church on the days of the alleged crimes.

Dushko Vulchev was arrested by Pittsfield police on Friday, January 1 on attempted arson charges to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Presbyterian Church in Springfield. 

Vulchev’s crime spree allegedly started on December 13th with a first attempt to burn the church. Then on December 14th, an alleged malicious damage to two luxury cars in Springfield. The next day two alleged arson attempts at the church. Now, according to court documents, Vulchev is also allegedly involved in the December 28th fire that burned down the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Presbyterian Church in Springfield. 

The 22News I-Team has previously dug through years of court paperwork and discovered that Dushko Vulchev was charged with a federal crime. Vulchev was sentenced to 6 months in prison back in 2015 for pleading guilty to threatening a foreign official.

According to court documents, he sent an email from his hometown of Houlton, Maine to a member of the European Commission in Belgium, threating to kill this person and others if they did not carry out his wishes. These demands included that every job in Europe be held by someone who is Bulgarian.

Vulchev is from Bulgaria according to the documents. He makes multiple death threats through the letter and said quote, “You die if you don’t do it. I give you 2 weeks.”

During the investigation, the FBI was told that Vulchev said he was here in the United States to quote “make September 12th” happen.

The 22News I-Team also discovered a long list of traffic violations he received in Maine, dating back to 2004.

Vulchev could face up to 30 years in prison, three years of probation and a 250-thousand dollar fine for these current charges. He will be in federal court in Springfield at an unannounced later date.

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