Federal investigators are looking into whether hate motivated a sheriff deputy’s son charged with setting fires at three historic black churches in Louisiana.
Holden Matthews, 21, faces three counts of simple arson of a religious building after being taken into custody without incident on Wednesday.
“This community is safe again,” Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning said during a press conference on Thursday in St. Landry Parish. “We are extremely unequivocally confident that we have the person who is responsible for these tragic crimes.”
“This takes a lot of the pressure off us,” said Harry Richard, pastor of Greater Union Baptist Church, the site of the second fire.
The Rev. Freddie Jack of the Seventh District Missionary Baptist Association cautioned, “I would like to know whether he was working alone or not. We can’t let our guard down.”
The fires happened within 10 days of each other at rural, African American churches fronting small cemeteries.
St. Landry Sheriff Bobby Guidroz confirmed that Matthews is the son of a deputy who works for him. He said that Matthews’ dad “was shocked and hurt, as any father would be.”
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SOURCE: NY Daily News, David Boroff