Fire tears through Nome, ND church bought by white supremacist

The Barnes County Sheriff's Office said they received a call about it Wednesday afternoon, but by the time the fire department got there, it was too late.

A church recently bought by self-proclaimed white supremacist Craig Cobb has burned to the ground in Nome, North Dakota.

Jerome Jankowski, who lives directly south of the church, said there were some rumors circulating around town about people wanting to burn the church down, "but maybe it was just an offhand comment", he told WDAY.

The fire was reported around 3:30 p.m., officials told KXMB.

"We hate that which threatens what we love", Cobb said at the time.

The North Dakota State Fire Marshal's Office is helping with the investigation.

According to the Bismarck Tribune, the deed on file for the church dated February 21 transferred partial ownership to Paul Cobb, also known as Craig Cobb, and lists one other owner. He is offering a $2,000 reward for anyone who has information about the fire, according to the Bismarck Tribune. A Nome resident told the Bismarck Tribune that nobody in the town was happy about Cobb coming to town "after that deal in Leith".

Jill Pederson, a resident who took photos of the church as it was burning down, said that she had gone to the church while growing up in Nome.

"Everyone has some form of prejudice", Jankowski said, "but this guy is way off the edge and he fell off".

"It's kind of sad that it goes, because it's kind of a landmark in this town", Mr. Jankowski said. Cobb began threatening residents and eventually pleaded guilty to "terrorizing", a felony.

Cobb knows he's not popular in North Dakota and joked that "they have so many suspects in this case, I really pity law enforcement". He then announced plans on a neo-Nazi web forum to make the town into an Aryan enclave, and he sold properties for virtually nothing to other white supremacist leaders.

Media captionNeo-Nazi Craig Cobb (centre) apparently imagined Leith would accept the new order.

  • Salvatore Jensen