The Latest on fires at black churches in Louisiana. (all times local):

10:05 a.m.

The suspect arrested in a string of fires at historically black churches in southern Louisiana has been identified as a 21-year-old white man.

FILE - In this April 4, 2019 file photo, firefighters and fire investigators respond to a fire at Mt. (Leslie Westbrook/The Advocate via AP, File)
FILE – In this April 4, 2019 file photo, firefighters and fire investigators respond to a fire at Mt. (Leslie Westbrook/The Advocate via AP, File)

According to a news release, Holden Matthews faces three counts of simple arson of a religious building.

At a news conference, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said “these were evil acts.”

The first fire torched the St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre last month. Days later, the Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas were burned. Each was more than 100 years old, with mostly black congregations.

Rev. Kyle Sylvester, center, who pastor's St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church which was the first church that went ablaze, speaks with other area pastors Thursday, April 4, 2019, at First Benjamin Baptist Church in Opelousas, La. (Leslie Westbrook/The Advocate via AP)
Rev. Kyle Sylvester, center, who pastor’s St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church which was the first church that went ablaze, speaks with other area pastors Thursday, April 4, 2019, at First Benjamin Baptist Church in Opelousas, La. (Leslie Westbrook/The Advocate via AP)

The churches were empty at the time of the fires, and no one was injured.

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5:25 a.m.

Firefighters and fire investigators respond to a fire at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Opelousas, La. (Leslie Westbrook/The Advocate via AP)
Firefighters and fire investigators respond to a fire at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Opelousas, La. (Leslie Westbrook/The Advocate via AP)

U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph says authorities have arrested a person in connection with suspicious fires at three historic black churches in Louisiana.

Joseph announced late Wednesday that the suspect is in state custody, and said federal agents stand shoulder to shoulder with the victims of “these despicable acts.” A Thursday press conference at the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office is planned.

The first fire torched the St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre last month. Days later, the Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas were burned. Each was more than 100 years old, with mostly black congregations.

The churches were empty at the time of the fires, and no one was injured. Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said all three were suspicious.

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