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Colorado man sentenced in Loveland church arson after pleading guilty to federal hate crime

Darion Ray Sexton was sentenced on Wednesday to 39 months in prison for a hate crime charge in connection with a fire he intentionally set to a church in Loveland last year. Police in Loveland arrested Sexton after the fire at the church on Jan. 19, 2023

According to investigators, Sexton admitted that he set the fire by throwing two Molotov cocktails at the church, one at the front door and the other at the basement. He also admitted that he was motivated to set the fire due to the religious character of the church and that he intended to destroy the church.  

Sexton pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime charge on May 5, 2023.

Loveland Fire Rescue

"This defendant has now been held accountable for his deliberate attack on the church," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in a statement. "No one should live in fear because of their religious beliefs. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute those who seek to destroy houses of worship and interfere with the fundamental right to practice religion freely."

"Places of worship are critical for our communities, and this office stands ready to protect them," said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan for the District of Colorado in a statement. "Religious freedom means being free to worship without fear. Our office will take every appropriate action to ensure that every Coloradan enjoys this essential freedom."   

Darion Sexton  Larimer County

"Arson is not only destructive and deadly, but also undermines the sense of safety within places of worship," said Special Agent in Charge Brent Beavers of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in a statement. "We immediately committed all ATF resources to addressing the impact of this arson by deploying our certified fire investigator, an ATF Task Force Officer with their ATF trained accelerant detection canine and ATF Laboratory services to analyze fire debris and evidence. Early and continued collaboration with our local and federal partners ensured justice once again prevailed."


The FBI, ATF and the Loveland Police and Fire Departments investigated the case. 

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