Chinese Illegal Immigrant Charged Over Arson of Historic Alabama Church

By Tammy Hung
Tammy Hung
Tammy Hung
October 11, 2021 Updated: October 11, 2021

A Chinese illegal immigrant has been charged with setting multiple fires to the First Baptist Church Montgomery in Alabama.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced federal charges against Xiaoquin Yan, who was accused of setting four fires inside First Baptist Church Montgomery on Sept. 29, according to court filings reported by WSFA 12 News.

Yan, a 27-year-old Chinese national, arrived in the United States on a student visa from China. However Yan has since had her visa revoked and is staying illegally in the country.

Yan, charged with second-degree arson, was originally held on a $30,000 bond at the Montgomery County Detention Facility.

Montgomery County District Judge Monet M. Gaines has since increased the bond five-fold to $150,000 on Oct. 5 after attorney Daryl Bailey said it was too low.

Given Yan was in the country illegally, Bailey said in a motion that the $30,000 bail was “woefully inadequate to secure her presence in court given her strong ties to an overseas country.”

Judge Gaines also ordered an evaluation of Yan’s mental state.

The fire caused at least $25,000 worth of damage, according to court documents.

The First Baptist Church Montgomery reported several pews destroyed, carpet found burned in the sanctuary, smoke and soot throughout the church, and reception office completely destroyed.

Church security traced a license plate to Yan that led to her arrest earlier this month. In a search of her home federal officers uncovered duffel bags, a handgun, ammunition, and a gas can.

Yan was allegedly caught on surveillance cameras setting fires with gasoline, causing extensive smoke damage that did not spread far enough to ignite the building.

It is unclear what her motives, if any, were at this stage.

No one was inside the century-old building and no injuries have been reported.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has been reported to attend services at the church.

Tammy Hung