OPELOUSAS, La. (FOX 5 NY) - Authorities arrested a 21-year-old man in connection with arson fires at several churches in Louisiana. The suspect is the son of a sheriff's deputy.
Holden Matthews, who is white, is accused of setting fires at three churches that have predominantly African American congregations in St. Landry Parish. The churches burned to the ground.
Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning didn't have a motive for the fires.
The head of the FBI's field office in New Orleans said that investigators are looking into whether the fires were "bias motivated."
St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said that Deputy Roy Matthews didn't know anything about his son's actions.
"When I had to call [Deputy Matthews] in and we sat him down and told him what we wanted [his son] here for, he broke down," Guidroz said. "It was hard."
Many residents said the church burnings brought back memories of civil rights-era violence.
"We've suffered but I think it has a cause, a higher cause," Rev. Gerald Toussaint of Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church said. "Because I've always said through this investigation what's done in the dark will come to the light."
Authorities charged Matthews with three counts of simple arson of a religious building.
FOX 5 NY produced this story from New York with reports from Fox News and The Associated Press