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Tag: black churches

Prosecutors File Hate Crime Charges Against Man Accused of Torching 3 Black Churches

Holden Matthews

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Prosecutors have filed hate crime charges against the white man suspected of setting fire to three African American churches in Louisiana.

Authorities believe Holden Matthews, the 21-year-old son of a sheriff’s deputy, was motivated by racism when he allegedly used gasoline to burn three historic black church in the St. Landry Parish over 10 days, The Associated Press reports.

On Monday, Matthews pleaded not guilty to the hate crimes and three counts of arson of a religious building. Worried Matthews is a flight risk, state District Judge James Doherty denied bail for Matthews, who had no previous criminal record.

“We felt that he was an immediate risk to public safety,” said Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning. “In my mind, I felt another fire was imminent.”

The ATF helped local authorities in the hunt for the culprit.

Matthews was charged after authorities said his cell phone records placed him at the arsons. Found on the phone were images of the three churches burning, the fire marshal said.

Son of Sheriff’s Deputy Arrested Over Fires at 3 Black Churches in La.

Suspect Holden Matthews. Via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The 21-year-old son of a St. Landry Parish deputy has been identified as the suspect accused of setting fire to three historic black churches in Louisiana.

“A suspect has been identified in connection with the three church burnings in Opelousas, Louisiana, and is in state custody,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph in a statement. “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 by these despicable acts.”

Holden Matthews was turned in by his father, Deputy Roy Matthews, on Wednesday evening, CBS News reports.

The three fires have a lot in common: They broke out at historic African American church buildings in Louisiana Landry Parish at night, were located in rural areas and occurred when no one was inside.

The suspect lives in the Landry Parish.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether authorities have a motive.

The ATF and other agencies are holding a press conference at 10 a.m. Thursday to release more information.

Earlier this week, the NAACP called the church burnings “domestic terrorism” aimed at people because of their race and faith.

The first fire broke out on March 26 and burned St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre to the ground. The second fire occurred Tuesday at the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas, and the third fire broke out Thursday at the 100-year-old Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas.

ATF Investigates Rash of Arsons at Black Churches Near Ferguson

ATF LogoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

ATF investigators are searching for a suspect they believe is responsible for setting six black churches on fire near Ferguson, the New York Daily News reports. 

The arsons began on Oct. 8, with the most recent occurring this weekend.

ATF stopped short of saying the motive was racial or religious.

“We believe this fire-setting activity is meant to send a message,” ATF spokesperson John Ham wrote in a statement announcing a $2,000 reward Tuesday. “We believe this activity may be the result of stress experienced in the subject’s life.”

No one was inside the churches when they were set afire.

“This is a spiritually sick person,” Rev. David Triggs, a pastor with the New Life Missionary, said.

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