An Ohio man was indicted on federal charges Friday morning on what authorities believe to be a racially motivated arson attack.
On May 20, just before dawn, Ronald Pudder, 23 was arrested after attempting to burn down First Azusa Apostolic Faith Church of God, a mostly African-American congregation located in Conneaut, Ohio—a city of 12,000 where blacks only account for 1 percent of the population.
According to the Star Beacon, a local newspaper, he was stopped after authorities spotted him slowly circling the church. Though Pudder denied any wrongdoing, police searched his vehicle and found evidence connecting him to the scene of the crime.
Upon further investigation, Pudder, who gave investigators permission to search his home, admitted afterwards to setting the church on fire.
According to authorities, only the front enterance of the church suffered any damage. No one was reportedly injured.
If convicted, Pudder faces up to 20 years for destruction of religious property and a mandatory 10-year sentence for arson.
Photo: Ronald Pudder