The son of a Louisiana sheriff’s deputy was arrested Wednesday in connection with fires that burned down three historically black churches in the past two weeks, police said.
Holden Matthews, 21, has been booked into the St. Landry Parish jail on suspicion of arson, KATC-TV reported, citing law enforcement sources. Matthews is the son of St. Landry Parish Deputy Roy Matthews. Authorities have not released a mug shot of the suspect.
The first fire took place last month at the St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre on March 26. The second happened April 2 at the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas, while the latest came two days later at the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, also in Opelousas.
After observing the crime scenes and speaking with investigators, Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., told The New York Times that the “method of each burn is notably the same.”
The three churches of predominantly black congregations were empty at the time of the blazes, and no injuries were recorded. The NAACP has labeled the church burnings “domestic terrorism” and racially motivated.
Authorities said they will “announce significant updates” in the investigation during an inter-agency press conference Thursday morning.