Louisiana authorities have arrested a sheriff's deputy's son in connection with a series of fires at three historically black churches, authorities confirmed at a press conference Thursday. The suspect is Holden Matthews, a 21-year-old white male.
Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning said investigators "are extremely, unequivocally confident that we have the person who is responsible" for the fires. Matthews has been charged with three counts of simple arson of a religious building, with each charge carrying a maximum 15-year penalty.
The fires at Mary Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church, and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church from March 26 through April 8 were all intentionally set, authorities said Thursday, and physical and technological evidence have pointed to Matthews as the suspect.
CBS previously reported Matthews is the son of a sheriff's deputy, and St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz confirmed Thursday that "Holden's father is an employee of mine" who was "shocked and hurt as any father would be."
Browning said the investigation is still active and that Matthews was quickly taken into custody because authorities felt "other crimes were imminent." The FBI is investigating whether the arson constitutes a hate crime. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said he did not know the arsonist's motive but that "these were evil acts" and "hate is not a Louisiana value." Brendan Morrow