Neighborhood watch surveillance captures person of interest in Cooper-Young church fire

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Investigators say they are looking into a person of interest who was captured on camera early Sunday morning and may be linked to a fire at a Cooper-Young church. Cameras installed by the neighborhood watch program could help solve the mystery of what or who started the fire.

Three days after the fire at First Congregational Church, the building remains closed and dark. On Sunday firefighters fought flames at the church in Cooper-Young, and now, investigators say eyes in the sky may have been watching it all.

"Because of the number of cameras located on that building they were able to catch an individual who looks like they may have had something to do with the fire," said Cooper Young Community Association executive director Kristen Schebler.

That footage has been turned over to investigators.

Diane Sable is a part of the neighborhood watch program that worked to get the cameras installed last year, and she says this isn't the first time the cameras have come in handy.

"We've caught road rage, we've caught two hit-and-runs," said Sable.

Not long after the Cooper Young Festival wrapped up this weekend, firefighters pulled up to find smoke billowing from a closet in the outreach building where the church keeps food pantry items and clothes for people in need. The building is not far from where Sunday service is held.

"Without those cameras that may not have been available, they may have had to rely on individuals walking past very early in the morning right after the festival," added Schebler.

Sable says there’s a reason there’s six cameras in the area.

"We had an increase in gun crime, there were two armed holdups in that area within less than two weeks," added Sable.

She says when it comes down to it, it's all about safety and ridding the area of crime.

The church is still without power. According to the church's pastor, there's a meeting scheduled for Thursday to discuss how the church plans to go about continuing their outreach mission.

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