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Multiple sources: One in custody in church fires

Posted at 6:54 PM, Apr 10, 2019
and last updated 2020-02-04 16:03:45-05

KATC has confirmed with multiple law enforcement sources that one person is in custody in the recent church fires in St. Landry Parish.

Sources confirm the suspect in the church arsons is Holden Matthews, 21. He is the son of a St. Landry Parish Deputy.

St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz tells KATC that, despite rumors, Matthews’ father did not turn his son in to deputies.

Matthews was booked at around 5:30 this evening into the St. Landry Parish jail.

We’re told that the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office will be holding a press conference tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to be there along with officials from St. Landry Parish, The FBI, and ATF.

“I’m very proud of the investigative effort that has lead to this arrest. I’m prayerful that we can close this horrific chapter and begin to heal. I’m especially uplifted by the Christian Community right now. God bless us one and all,” Congressman Clay Higgins said in a statement to KATC.

Higgins published a video outside of one of the churches where he sent a message to the arsonist. Watch here

The Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office, in collaboration with the ATF, FBI, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office and several other local agencies have been investigating suspicious fires at three churches in St. Landry Parish.

US Attorney David Joseph released the following statement on the burnings.

“A suspect has been identified in connection with the three church burnings in Opelousas, Louisiana, and is in state custody.  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.  A special thanks to St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz, Louisiana State Fire Marshal, H. “Butch” Browning Jr., Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Cybercrime Unit, the Louisiana State Police, and the Florida State Fire Marshal for working seamlessly with federal law enforcement agents in this investigation.”

The first fire occurred on March 26 at St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre. The second occurred at Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas on April 2. The third occurred on April 4 at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas.

To read our stories about the fires, click here.

After the fires, the congregations of historically black churches were defiantly joyful during their first Sunday service.Read that here

A gofundme account has been created for those wishing to give to the churches. More here

A photo from Matthews Facebook page is below: