Published: Fri, April 12, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Suspect arrested in connection with fires at black churches in Louisiana

Suspect arrested in connection with fires at black churches in Louisiana

Holden Matthews, a 21-year-old white man, was arrested Wednesday in St. Landry Parish.

"When Matthews was developed as a suspect we saw an immediate threat to public safety", Mr Browning said.

Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning didn't have a motive for the fires.

St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz, clad in a black tie emblazoned with gray handguns, dismissed any rumors that Matthews' father, Roy, had a hand in his son's arrest.

Guidroz said the elder Matthews, shocked and heartbroken, arranged for his son to leave the house and go to a location where he was be arrested without incident.

Rev Gerald Toussaint of Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church, speaking on behalf of the targeted churches, said the future was "bright" as the hard time brought the community together in new ways.

"Because I've always said through this investigation what's done in the dark will come to the light".

Holden Matthews is charged with three counts of arson on a religious building for allegedly burning down three rural churches over a 10-day period beginning in late March.

"A suspect has been identified in connection with the three church burnings in Opelousas, Louisiana, and is in the state custody", U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph said Wednesday. The St. Mary Baptist fire was followed by an April 2 blaze at Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas and an April 4 fire at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, also in Opelousas.

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"I am so proud of the teamwork that has returned a sense of security to this community by determining a cause for these fires and putting the person responsible for them behind bars", said State Fire Marshal H. "We felt other crimes were imminent".

Matthews had shown interest in "black metal", an extreme subgenre of heavy metal linked, in some instances, to fires at Christian churches in Norway in the 1990s, Browning said. Each of the three charges carries a 15-year prison sentence.

Bryyn acknowledged that some people involved in black metal music have expressed racist ideas, but he insisted it's not typical of the genre.

Just one week after a black/death metal musician was arrested for starting multiple church fires in New Zealand, it has happened again - this time in the United States in the state of Louisiana.

A Facebook page that appeared to belong to Matthews showed him with the words "black metal" spray painted on a wall behind him.

The three churches destroyed by the fires have mostly black congregations, raising authorities' suspicion that the fires may be racially motivated hate crimes.

Denzel Washington, a 23-year-old black resident of Opelousas, lamented the loss for the congregations that now have to rebuild. "Butch" Browning told worshipers at Mount Pleasant that about 200 state investigators were working the case alongside officials from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI.

"St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, Greater Union Baptist Church, and Mt".

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