ST. LANDRY, La. (KLFY) – It’s been one week since the suspect in three St. Landry Parish church fires has been arrested, which means one local pastor can now sleep in his own bed.
About two weeks ago the pastor of a historically black church in Port Barre removed their church’s sign from the roadway in fear of the suspect who had already burned down two churches in Saint Landry Parish would target his church next. Now, one week after the suspect has been caught he’s sleeping a bit easier
“All of the added stress, pressure, anxiety, just a sense of relief”, said Reverend Dwight Brown of St Peter Missionary Baptist.
He has been the leader of the church for 15 years, a member for 47; but he says the church has been a staple in the community for much longer.
“The church was founded in 1889. This is part of the original building. We have members that come from all over. We don’t have a huge congregation. Our membership is about 60 to 70 members but we love our little church”, the reverend said.
With such significance, Reverend Brown would stop at nothing to protect the church.
On the night of April 3rd, we filmed the reverend and several church member prep the grounds with added security, even setting up cots in the pews.
“I just didn’t feel comfortable sleeping in my bed knowing that my church could be targeted”, he said.
Reverend Brown and one of his deacons slept at the church against the fire marshal’s wishes, and in true minister fashion backed up his actions with scripture.
“If the owner of the house knew when the thief was coming he would have been ready”.
On the night they started sleeping at St. Peter, Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church was set ablaze around 2 that morning.
“When I found out at 5 o’clock in the morning when my coworker called me and said another church had been burned, I just felt that was intended for us. Thank God that we did stay at church and I thank God that we were spared.”
The suspect, 21-year-old Holden Matthews faces 2 counts of simple arson, 1 count aggravated arson, and three hate crime charges in the burning of the three churches.