Suspect arrested in 'suspicious' fires at black churches

3 black churches burned in 10 days

Louisiana Deputy's Son Arrested, Accused Of Connection to String of Suspicious Fires at Historically Black Churches

He and other officials stopped short of calling them hate crimes.

A statement from the fire marshal's office said any "potential motivations of hate" in the fires are still being investigated by federal authorities.

"Though the spirit is still strong, the landmarks have been destroyed", Browning said.

Two law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the ongoing investigation tell CNN the subject arrested in connection with three church fires in Louisiana is a 21-year-old man from St. Landry Parish.

Pastor Harry Richard of the Greater Union Baptist Church was happy to hear of the arrest, telling The Washington Post, "I felt relieved knowing that our congregation didn't have to worry anymore. God bless us one and all", he said.

And one church leader expressed concerns that the threat may not be over yet.

The fires engulfed St Mary Baptist Church, the Greater Union Baptist Church and the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, all in the same rural community 30 minutes north of Lafayette. "It's like the sixties again", said Earnest Hines, a deacon at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church - the site of the third fire.

Officials did not immediately specify a motive in the three fires.

The affidavit said the pickup was later captured driving by the fire scene and slowing down.

"It has been especially painful because it reminds us of a very dark past of intimidation and fear", Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said at a news conference. A Louisiana deputy's son was arrested and accused of arson on Wednesday in connection with a sting of suspicious fires at historically-black churches.

"He broke down", Guidroz said. Guidroz also said the suspect's father knew nothing of his son's involvement in the fires. He did not elaborate. He was booked into the St. Landry Parish Jail on three counts of simple arson of a religious building.

The fires set many people on edge in and around Opelousas, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) northwest of New Orleans.

"This takes a lot of the pressure off us", Richard said.

"Butch" Browning says Holden Matthews, 21, was involved with "black metal" music, which has been associated with church burning and has a neo-Nazi fringe.

"Most people in our world adamantly did not like the movie and what it stood for and how it portrayed our culture", Matthews' friend Nygyl Brynn Blackwolf told BuzzFeed. "Absolutely not", Bryyn said.

State and federal investigators obtained surveillance photos of the man who - along with the Scepter-branded gas cans - also purchased a 10-pack of automotive cloths and a lighter at a Walmart in St. Landry Parish. They worked together and met face to face over the years.

Matthews had always been upset with his parents for not supporting his musical efforts, Bryyn said. He also says Matthews had been discouraged in recent months as Bryyn said he needed to improve the quality of his recordings.

Black metal music is a genre of music that is anti-Christian and satanic. In the early 1990s, a rash of church arsons in Norway by fans of the music were described by leaders of the movement as acts of protest against Christianity ruling over a country rooted in Paganism.

Vikernes spent 15 years in prison for arson and for the 1993 murder of his bandmate Euronymous. Black metal songs typically have a fast tempo and feature shrieking vocals, heavily distorted guitars and unconventional song structures.

Latest News