The 16-year-old is a high school student in Gainesville and had planned the attack at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church for several weeks, police said. She researched black places of worship online and visited the church this month, but no one was there at the time.
“She is a racist,” Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish said, adding he wouldn’t make the statement without substantial evidence.
While police have not released much detail on the alleged plot, Bishop Reginald Jackson of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church told local media that a Georgia law may be the reason she is facing the charge of criminal attempt to commit murder.
“It ought to bother us in the state of Georgia, this young girl, this young woman cannot be charged with a hate crime,” he said. “She cannot be charged with a hate crime because Georgia does not have a hate crimes law.”
The Justice Department enforces federal hate crimes laws when a crime occurs on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. It began prosecuting federal hate crimes cases after the Civil Rights Act of 1968.