Holden Matthews, 21-years-old, has been identified as the St. Landry Parish, Louisiana man who was arrested on Wednesday, April 10, for his alleged connection to a string of arson attempts at three of the state’s historically African American churches.
According to officials with the St. Landry Parish police department, Matthews was arrested around 5:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday, April 10, thanks to the work of a joint investigation between the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The ATF also reportedly provided assistance to the investigation.
Police say that Matthews attempted to burn down three of Louisiana’s historically African American churches: St. Mary Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church, and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.
The alleged arson attempts reportedly happened in Port Barre and Opelousas between Tuesday, March 26 and Thursday, April 4.
Following his arrest, Matthews — the son of St. Landry Parish Deputy Roy Matthews — was taken to the St. Landry Parish jail on Wednesday, April 10.
On Thursday, April 11, Matthews was officially charged with three counts of simple arson of a religious building.
In an official statement, attorney David Joseph called Matthews’ alleged crimes “despicable.”
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office, ATF, and FBI are working with state and local law enforcement and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the victims and those St. Landry Parish residents affected,” Joseph’s official statement read.
If found guilty of his crimes, Matthews faces a maximum of 15 years in prison for each count of arson.
Following Matthews’ arson attempts, a GoFundMe page has been created in support of the targeted churches.
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