Suspect taken into custody in connection with string of fires at historically black Louisiana churches: report

Authorities in Louisiana have reportedly taken a suspect into custody in connection with fires that burned down three historically African-American churches in the state.

CNN reported Wednesday that a law enforcement official and local elected official had confirmed that a suspect had been taken into custody in the investigation.

Police officials told The Hill in a phone call that a press conference with updates in the case was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. central time on Thursday, but declined to comment on whether a suspect was in custody.


Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is reportedly set to attend Thursday's news conference according to CNN.

Two churches in Opelousas, La., were set on fire in recent weeks — the Greater Union Baptist Church and the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church – while another church in Port Barre, the St. Mary Baptist Church, burned in late March. Another fire at the predominantly-white Vivian United Pentecostal Church was deemed to be "intentionally set."

Authorities had previously called the fires "suspicious," while the NAACP went further, labeling them acts of "domestic terrorism."

“What is happening in Tennessee and Louisiana is domestic terrorism and we must not turn a blind eye to any incident where people are targeted because of the color of their skin or their faith,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement this week.

“For decades, African American churches have served as the epicenter of survival and a symbol of hope for many in the African-American community. As a consequence, these houses of faith have historically been the targets of violence. The NAACP stands vigilant to ensure that authorities conduct full investigations,” he continued.

Louisiana's Fire Marshal H. "Butch" Browning said last week that the FBI was assisting in the state's investigation.

“There is clearly something happening in this community,” Browning said in a statement. “That is why it is imperative that the citizens of this community be part of our effort to figure out what it is."

"We're gonna solve this. For the people responsible, the right thing to do would be come ask for redemption and come forward and let us help you through this process, don't make us hunt you down, because we will," added Browning.