Home Fire News Suspect behind fires at historically black churches found; arrested

Suspect behind fires at historically black churches found; arrested

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Laura McKnight
NOLA Media Group, New Orleans

The son of a St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s deputy is accused of arson in connection with a series of suspicious fires at historically black churches in that parish, KATC-TV reports, citing multiple law enforcement sources.

Holden Matthews, 21, was booked Wednesday (April 10) into the St. Landry Parish jail, according to the news station.

The KATC-TV report coincides with a Wednesday night announcement by the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office that officials will update the public on the investigation into the church fires.

The news conference to “announce significant updates” in the investigation is set for 10 a.m. Thursday at the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Public Safety Complex in Opelousas.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is scheduled to participate, along with Louisiana State Fire Marshal Chief H. “Butch” Browning, St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz and local leaders of the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), officials said.

The first suspicious fire occurred March 26 at St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre. 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.

A booking photo of Matthews was not available Wednesday night.

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