A Maine man the FBI says intentionally set a Black Massachusetts church on fire in December 2020 was charged with a hate crime on Thursday, April 15.
Dushko Vulchev, a 44-year-old Bulgarian man from Houlton, Maine, was charged by the FBI with four counts of damage to religious property involving fire and one count of use of fire to commit a federal felony. He remains in state custody in Massachusetts and will make an initial court appearance at a later date in Springfield.
According to court documents, an intentionally set fire caused significant damage to the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church in Springfield in the early hours of Dec. 28. Vulchev was responsible for the fires, according to federal prosecutors, and for three other fires on the property on separate occasions, including one on Dec. 13 and two others on Dec. 15. He also allegedly slashed tires of vehicles on and around church property.
Security video and location data from Vulchev’s phone placed him at the location of many of the crimes, including the fourth and final Dec. 28 fire which “essential destroyed” the church.
The charge of damage to religious property involving fire carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The use of fire to commit a federal felony provides for a sentence of at least 10 years in prison.
Vulchev’s “hatred of Black people” was also uncovered by a investigation of his vehicle and electronic devices. In December, Vulchev reportedly sent an “eliminate all N—-rs” Skype message. Devices also contained images that demonstrated Vulchev’s racism.
In Vulchev’s vehicle, authorities found a photo of Adolf Hitler in an Adidas track suit, and a White Lives Matter mural.
Vulchev’s ex-girlfriend told authorities he “frequently displayed racial animus toward non-whites and Muslims, and used the epithet ‘N—–‘ to describe Black people.”
Authorities say Vulchev wrote in a Skype message from Dec. 16, “If I am raped in prison it better be by white people instead of filthy and nasty N——, who are ugly and grotesk!… If its not white then its not right!”
Vulchev was convicted in Maine in 2017 for obstructing reporting of a crime, theft by unauthorized taking/transfer, domestic violence terrorizing, domestic violence assault, and criminal restraint, and was sentenced 258 days in jail for those crimes.