Suspect in 3 Louisiana Black Church Fires Charged With Hate Crimes

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Louisiana State Fire Marshall vehicles outside the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas, Louisiana. (Courtesy Louisiana Office Of State Fire Marshal/Handout via REUTERS)

The suspect who has been accused of burning down three Black churches in Louisiana was charged with federal hate crimes on Wednesday, federal prosecutors said.

Holden Matthews, 21, of Opelousas, Louisiana was charged by a federal grand jury with three counts of intentional damage to religious property, three counts of using fire to commit a felony, and hate crime charges that fall under the Church Arson Prevention Act, according to a press release from the Justice Department.

Matthews is accused of intentionally setting fire to the three churches over a 10-day span. The 21-year-old set fire to St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, Louisiana on March 26, the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas on April 2, and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas on April 4.


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