“Several pieces of evidence both from the scene and technological evidence have confirmed that Matthews is the suspect.” said Butch Browning, Louisiana State Fire Marshal.
21-year-old Holden Matthews of Opelousas sits in jail, charged with three counts of simple arson on a religious building. Each of those counts carry a maximum penalty of 15 years.
“Why our church?” said Rev. Gerald Toussaint of Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church.
During a press conference at the St. Landry Sheriff Public Safety Complex, investigators revealed Matthews acted alone, saying he used music as his motivation.
“Information that the investigators have uncovered is that Matthews had offered through connections and suggestions a relationship with a type of music called black metal and it’s association and history with church burning.” said Browning.
Officials stopped short of calling the fires hate crimes, but, a FBI agents said investigators are still looking into whether the fires were “bias motivated.” Governor John Bel Edwards called the crimes, wicked.
“I don’t know what this young man’s motive was I don’t know what was in his heart but I can say it cannot be justified or rationalized. These were evil acts.” said Edwards.
During the press conference, investigators also praised the pastors and religious leaders for their work in the investigation, offering words of wisdom ensuring them their communities are once again safe.