Louisiana Man Facing Hate Crime Charges for 3 Black Church Burnings

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

Notre-Dame's ashes spark renewed push to rebuild torched Louisiana churches

During his Monday hearing, prosecutors said cellphone evidence placed Matthews at the scenes of the three fires, including photos and videos.

The Louisiana Office Of State Fire Marshal's department said at the time of his arrest that they were investigating a possible connection between the blazes and Matthews love of black metal.

Following the disastrous fire at Notre Dame in Paris and supportive tweets from Donald Trump and Mike Pence, Twitter users in America rallied to lend their dollars to the three black churches that were burned down in a hate crime by an arsonist earlier this month.

They also found news reports on his phone in which he had superimposed himself on those reports in order to claim responsibility while talking to a friend online. "He has clearly demonstrated the characteristics of a pathological fire setter".

All three fires were started with gasoline and occurred around Opelousas, about 60 miles (100km) west of the state capital of Baton Rouge. Days later, the Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas were burned.

"It's a blessing", the Rev. Gerald Toussaint, pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, said of the money raised. Each was more than 100 years old.

Holden Matthews, 21, a white resident and son of a sheriff's deputy in St. Landry Parish, was arrested last week and charged with three counts of simple arson on religious buildings.

Prosecutors filed documents Monday adding three more charges, accusing Matthews of violating Louisiana's hate crime law.

Browning said federal officials also are considering filing additional federal hate crime and arson charges against Matthews. But that and the fire were apparently where the similarities between the two situations ended.

The fires set the community on edge.

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. His parents watched their son's appearance on video conference from the courtroom, his dad repeatedly wringing his hands and, at one point, leaving the room in tears.

'France is the oldest ally of the United States, and we remember with grateful hearts the tolling of Notre Dame's bells on September 12, 2001, in solemn recognition of the tragic September 11th attacks on American soil.

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