Black metal fan accused of church burnings now charged with hate crimes

Holden Matthews 21 charged with three counts of simple arson on religious buildings is seen in this booking

Holden Matthews 21 charged with three counts of simple arson on religious buildings is seen in this booking

As millions of dollars roll in to help rebuild the historic Notre Dame Cathedral, people have been inspired to donate to rebuild three churches in Louisiana that were intentionally burned down.

During a court appearance on Monday (April 15), prosecutors filed new hate crime charges against Matthews, while later denying his bond request citing the "substantial amount of evidence" against him.

The three churches destroyed by the fires have mostly black congregations, raising authorities' suspicions that the fires may be racially motivated hate crimes. In the past month, three historically black churches in Louisiana were destroyed by a racist arsonist.

"It's overwhelming", Jack said by phone. Video surveillance near the churches showed a truck similar to the one Matthews drives, Browning said. Pleasant Baptist Church, in Opelousas, La. The fires, all started with gasoline, occurred in and around Opelousas, about 60 miles west of Louisiana's capital city of Baton Rouge.

A third fire on April 4 at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, which burned down the entire building, prompted State Fire Marshal Butch Browning to declare that the three fires displayed concerning "patterns".

"It's all working out for the greater good", he said when asked about the connection being made to the Notre Dame fire.

All of the churches are more than 100 years old and have mostly black congregants. Matthews was arrested a week ago.

Holden Matthews, the man suspected of starting the fires, faces multiple charges in the case - including three hate crime counts. He was arrested Wednesday on three charges of arson of a religious building. They were empty at the time of the fires and no one was injured. But that and the fire were apparently where the similarities between the two situations ended.

The fires set the community on edge.

Notre Dame was partially destroyed in the fire [Photo: AP] Holden Matthews, the 21-year-old son of a Louisiana sheriff's deputy, was arrested in connection with the USA church fires and faces hate crime charges. Following the fires, the State Fire Marshal's Office launched an investigation into both incidents.

During Monday's hearing, in which the suspect never spoke and entered his not guilty plea through a lawyer, investigators mentioned the suspect's connection to black metal music.

A pretrial hearing in the case was set for July 17, with jury selection scheduled to begin in the trial on September 10.

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