Son of sheriff's deputy charged with burning three Louisiana black churches

Clay Curtis
April 12, 2019

He acknowledged that some, but not all, involved in black metal music may have expressed racism, but he said it's not typical of the genre.

Harry Richard's church was the second to burn.

Matthews had always been upset with his parents for not supporting his musical efforts, Bryyn said.

Josh Cook, 27, a musician from Hammond, Louisiana, said he heard about the church burnings before Matthews' arrest and had wondered if they could have been inspired by the church fires in Norway.

"I can never give total condolences to these church communities for the losses of their places of worship", Browning said in a statement.

According to his arrest warrant, Matthews used his debit card and ID to purchase a gas can, a 10-pack of automotive shop towels and a lighter on or around 25 March.

The Louisiana State Fire Marshal's Office said they will hold a press conference to "announce significant updates" in the arrest and investigation at 10 a.m. local time on Thursday at the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Public Safety Complex.

In addition, cellphone tower data showed Matthews was in the area of all three fires. Matthews apparently drove the truck to buy the petrol can and other items, according to the court documents.

Between March 26 and April 4, three predominantly black churches in rural St. Landry Parish near Baton Rouge were completely lost to fires that were being treated as "suspicious", Louisiana Fire Marshal H. CBS News has learned it was the suspect's father, Deputy Roy Matthews, who turned him in to authorities.

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"Holden Matthews' father did not turn him in", Guidroz said. Sheriff Guidroz said the father knew nothing of his son's involvement and broke down over the arrest, which he helped facilitate by getting the accused away from home. "The U.S. Attorney's Office, ATF, and Federal Bureau of Investigation are working with state and local law enforcement and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the victims and those St. Landry Parish residents affected by these despicable acts", he said. Each was more than 100 years old, with mostly African American congregations.

The first fire torched the St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre last month.

"It's not a super tiny city", Brent Swann, a white, 24-year-old employee at a vehicle rental agency said hours before the arrest. "Butch" Browning said during a press conference last week.

In 2015, a white-supremacist gunman opened fire on a prayer group at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine black people.

The younger Matthews was arrested on three counts of simple arson of a religious building.

U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph says authorities have arrested a person in connection with suspicious fires at three historic black churches in Louisiana.

Matthews, the son of Deputy Roy Matthews of the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office, was taken into custody late Wednesday, about 12 hours after he was identified as a suspect, Browning said.

Online records show Matthews was being held Thursday in the St. Landry Parish Jail.

"We can now confirm all three of these fires are intentionally set and all three of these fires are related", State Fire Marshal Butch Browning told CNN.

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