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Deputy’s son arrested in black church fires
OPELOUSAS, La. – Authorities in southern Louisiana said Thursday that the suspect in a spate of black church fires is the son of a parish sheriff’s deputy.
Holden Matthews, 21, was arrested Wednesday and charged with three arson counts in three church burnings in St. Landry Parish across 10 days that have frightened black communities, prompting worry that they were racially motivated crimes.
“It has been especially painful because it reminds us of a very dark past of intimidation and fear,” Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said at a news conference.
Matthews is the son of St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Roy Matthews, who was “shocked and hurt” at the news of the arrest, St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said.
Guidroz rebuffed earlier reports that Matthews was taken into custody by his own father. That is false, he said from the podium.
“This case was solved with boots on the ground and butts in the air,” Guidroz said, though he added Roy Matthews helped direct his son away from his home to make the arrest.
Federal authorities are investigating whether the fires constitute a hate crime, an FBI official said at the news conference. “We need to go where the evidence takes us,”