A man suspected to have set fire to three historically black Louisiana churches may have been influenced by “black metal” music to commit the crime.
The motive is still under investigation, and officials are looking into it as a possible hate crime. The 21-year-old, Holden Matthews, was also a law enforcement officer’s son.
Matthews was allegedly active in Facebook groups centered around black metal and Nordic religious beliefs. He posted about his Asatru beliefs that center around Norse gods and also admitted to carrying a handgun illegally.
“Information investigators have uncovered, and that Matthews has offered, suggests a possible connection with a genre of music called ‘black metal’ and its associated history with church burnings in other parts of the world — which have been documented in movies and books,” State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said. “Any questions as to the potential motives of hate are continuing to be vetted by federal authorities.”
The fires occurred over the span of 10 days in south central Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole country. Officials say they are not actively searching any other suspects, but the investigation is still ongoing.
“I don’t know what this young man’s motive was, I don’t know what was in his heart, but I can say it cannot be justified or rationalized,” Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters. “These were evil acts. But let me be clear about this, hate is not a Louisiana value.”
This is not the first incident in recent weeks surrounding church fires and metal music. According to the New Zealand Herald, a 28-year-old metal drummer set fire to two Mormon churches in March. The man, Jacob Lowenstein, was charged for the crime.
Both crimes echo the famous church burnings in Norway by musicians in the black metal movement that occurred in the ’90s.
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