Church fire suspect’s father is sheriff’s deputy

OPELOUSAS, La. (AP) — St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz says the father of the suspect arrested in the fires at three black Louisiana churches is a deputy in his department.

Holden Matthews is a 21-year-old white man who’s been arrested in the fires and faces three counts of simple arson of a religious building.

At a news conference, Sheriff Guidroz disputed reports that Matthews’ father turned his son in. Guidroz also said the suspect’s father knew nothing of his son’s involvement in the fires.

The first fire torched the St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre last month. Days later, the Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas were burned. Each was more than 100 years old, with mostly black congregations.

The churches were empty at the time of the fires, and no one was injured.