JSABBOTT/iStockBy IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News(NEW YORK) — Investigators are looking into a potential arson case at a Mississippi church where members sued local leaders after receiving a citation for disobeying orders against holding in-person religious services during the COVID-19 outbreak.The First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs was destroyed in a blaze early Wednesday, according to the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office. Church attendees filed a lawsuit against the city after receiving a citation last month for having a Bible study of more than 10 people and an Easter service.Investigators said they believed the fire was deliberately set. A note allegedly left at the scene said, “Bet you stay at home now you hypokrits [sic].” The investigation is ongoing.Nearby residents told local reporters they were shocked to see the church destroyed.“I just don’t understand it. Even though I’m not Pentecostal, I wouldn’t want something like this to happen,” Katherin Bright told ABC Memphis affiliate WATN-TV.Stephen Crampton, senior counsel at Thomas More Society, which is representing the church in the lawsuit, said the fire was devastating.“While there may be room for reasonable disagreement, it seems no call to take such extreme and violent action,” he told WATN.Shirley Byers, an attorney for Holly Springs Mayor Kevin Buck, said her office was shocked and upset over the fire.“It’s unfortunate any time a crime is committed in our town,” she told ABC News.The state allowed churches and other houses of worship to remain open as essential businesses, but faith leaders were asked to be more cautious as the coronavirus spread.The Holly Springs mayor’s office initially declared that churches weren’t essential in a stay-at-home order issued March 23, but it amended the order April 24 so churches could hold drive-through services.The citation issued against First Pentecostal Church said there were 35 to 40 people in the church during a bible study on April 10. Byers said the mayor’s office hasn’t been served a complaint by the defendants.Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said he would be watching the investigation, but reiterated that the state’s policies allowed for houses of worship to hold services.“It is very clear local municipalities can have guidelines that are more strict than the governor’s guidelines, but they cannot have guidelines that directly conflict with what we have put in place,” he said during a news conference Wednesday. Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
A Grade Three winner over hurdles last season and placed at the highest level at the Punchestown Festival in the spring, Paul Fahey’s charge was the 5-2 favourite for his third chasing start. With Paul Townend in the plate for the first time, Lots Of Memories jumped well, but had Jarry D’Honneur and Fine Rightly for company at the second-last. Lots Of Memories got off the mark over fences with a dominant display in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase at Navan. The latter threatened to make a real race of it for a moment, but Lots Of Memories powered away on the run to the final fence and galloped 11 lengths clear. Champagne James stayed on for third. Fahey said: “This was two miles and four furlongs at the original stage (in the racing programme) but I missed the text when it was changed back to two miles and one. “We said we’d let him take his chance as if we wanted to run at Christmas he needed a prep run. He’s in the Topaz (Grade One, Leopardstown) over three miles, and he’s not done anything to suggest we shouldn’t go there. “Paul said he was on his head a bit but his jumping carried him through, and he said he got away with the trip, but back up in class he won’t.” Jerry Cosgrave’s stable star Mount Colah cruised to victory in the Foxrock Handicap Chase under Noel McParlan. Placed in the Poplar Square Chase on his seasonal reappearance before another good effort over hurdles at Thurles, the consistent eight-year-old was a 9-1 shot on his return to handicap company. Mount Colah travelled within himself throughout and was the only horse still on the bridle at the top of the home straight. Fever Pitch and Aupcharlie both gave generously under pressure, but Mount Colah was well in command jumping the final fence and safely negotiated the obstacle to cement his 11-length success. Fever Pitch beat Aupcharlie to the runner-up spot, while favourite Abbey Lane was disappointing, eventually pulling up. McParlan said: “He’s a smashing little horse, and the best I’ve ridden. We’ve been trying to get him to settle and the hood has helped this season. That’s as good as he’s ever felt.” Press Association
Mariners sign Ichiro Suzuki ahead of expected Japan sendoff, report says Dipoto denied the accusations, calling them “untrue,” and took responsibility for the controversy that came after he fired her for cause just one year into her three-year contract. He had hired Martin in October 2017 as the team’s high performance director to help the team modernize its training and conditioning regimes, a position Dipoto created.”At the end of the day, my belief is that justice will prevail,” Dipoto said Thursday, per The Seattle Times. “There is an ongoing investigation that I’m not going to get into. I’ve been at this now for 30 years. I know a lot of people in this game. I’m not sexist, nor am I a racist. The accusations that have been made are untrue. I believe that will wash out as this unfolds. But I can only speak for myself. The responsibility for the development of the program and hiring Dr. Martin to come here was on me and I take full responsibility for it. I’m embarrassed at how this has unfolded.” Related News MLB is investigating Martin’s claims, including a post she made on social media in November implied Dipoto, McKay and manager Scott Servais had called Latino players “lazy, dumb and stupid.” Martin has since filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the franchise, according to the Times. She claims in the suit she complained earlier this year to team owners John Stanton, Buck Ferguson and CEO Kevin Mather about alleged discrimination, to no avail. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto strongly denied accusations of racism and sexism made by former staffer Dr. Lorena Martin on Thursday for the first time since the allegations surfaced in November.Dipoto and director of player development Andy McKay, who also was named in the allegations, reiterated the team’s belief Martin fabricated claims against members of the front office. “It’s a difficult situation, obviously,” McKay said. “It’s one that requires thought and it requires reflection. But in terms of the people I work with on a daily basis the support has been unanimous and 100 percent positive. The accusations are serious, but they are completely false. I never said anything like that. I’ve never thought that. I’ve never felt it. It didn’t happen.“Fortunately, I think I have a track record with people I’ve worked with, not just here, but in Colorado and in Sacramento that this is not just very believable. I’m not planning on addressing it. I haven’t addressed it. This is the first time I’ve addressed it. And I’m grateful for the Mariners. They’ve supported me. Major League Baseball is doing an investigation that is very thorough and very complete. And at the end of it, I’ll feel very good about where my name will stand.”The Mariners issued a statement in November denying all of the accusations, calling them “outrageous, false claims.”