OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY)- The 21-year-old suspect arrested in connection to the destruction of three historically black Baptist churches is in cusody tonight.
Holden Matthews faces three counts of simple arson of a religious building. He faces up to 15 years of prison for each charge.
Authorities said Matthews, who is the son of a St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy, has been transferred to the Catahoula Correctional Center.
“When Matthews was developed as a suspect, we saw an immediate threat to public safety. We felt like other crimes were imminent,” said State Fire Marshal Butch Browning today.
Officials are still investigating the exact motive behind the church attacks, but Browning said Matthews was associated with a genre of music called black metal.
The genre is reportedly associated with history of church burnings in other parts of the world which have been documented in movies and books, Browning said.
According to Matthews’ arrest affidavit, an early 2000s gold-colored Ford pickup truck was spotted on surveillance video entering the parking lot of the one of the churches just before the blaze erupted. T
he affidavit also mentions he purchased two gallon gas cans, a 10-pack of shop towels and a lighter on or about March 25 at Walmart in Opelousas.
“As we all know by now, Holden’s father is an employee of mine, a fine man,” St. Landry Parish Bobby Guidroz said.
Guidroz said he was “shocked and hurt as any father would be.”
“And my heart goes out to him when we called him in,” the sheriff said.
Guidroz said Matthews’ father, one of his deputies, Roy Matthews, knew nothing about his son’s activity at first. Once the deputy learned his son may be tied to the crimes, he assisted with the arrest, Guidroz said.
During today press conference, News 1 asked Guidroz when as there the arrest occurred.
“I’m not going to get into that, but I can tell you that we made sure that nobody else at the home at the time was involved or already in direct danger,’ the sheriff said. “We just made sure that we got him away from the safe environment he thought he was safe in and then arrest was made.”