Ohio man charged for using Molotov cocktails to attack church ahead of planned drag shows
Washington – A member of the White Lives Matter Ohio branch is accused of attacking a church with Molotov cocktails in anticipation of drag shows the religious community planned to host, the Justice Department announced Friday.
According to charging documents, Aimenn Penny — who investigators say is a part of the pro-Nazi and anti-gay group — admitted to using vodka and beer bottles and gasoline to target the Community Church of Chesterfield outside of Toledo.
On the morning of March 25, prosecutors allege Church leaders found scorch marks on an exterior sign and the front door of their building and a broken sign on the property. Church representatives told investigators that before the alleged attack, "they received hate mail and messages containing non-specific threats of protest and violence against the drag events."
The criminal complaint unsealed Friday revealed this was not Penny's first time targeting drag events. According to prosecutors, on March 11, he attended a drag queen story hour "to distribute propaganda flyers representing White Lives Matter, Ohio's anti-drag queen views," and was wearing, "military style gear including camouflage pants, a tactical vest, and jacket with a patch showing a firearm."
At that same event, according to the government, members of the White Lives Matter group "showed up at the event carrying swastika flags and shouting racial and anti-gay slurs and 'Heil Hitler.'"
In October of last year, the complaint alleges Penny told local police that African Americans were "the problem" and he looked forward to "the civil war coming between races."
Investigators say they were able to geolocate Penny's phone to the church property on March 25, in the early morning.
During an FBI interview, charging documents contend the defendant told investigators he was responsible for the attack at the Chesterfield church and he was "trying to protect children and stop the drag show event."
"Penny stated that night he became more and more angry after watching internet videos of news feeds and drag shows in France and decided to attack the church," according to court documents. "[He] stated that he would have felt better if the Molotov cocktails were more effective and burned the entire church to the ground."
An attorney for Penny could not be immediately identified.
News of Penny's targeting of the Church comes days after investigators announced a Wisconsin man had been arrested for allegedly firebombing a Wisconsin government building, prompted by his pro-abortion access views.
According to the FBI, on Mother's Day 2022, Hridindu Sankar Roychowdhury attacked the building with a mason jar, lighter, and liquid accelerant that started an active fire.
"If abortions aren't safe then you aren't either," was allegedly written outside the building in graffiti.
This month, according to the Justice Department, the defendant bought a one-way ticket from Boston, Massachusetts to Guatemala, but was arrested at the airport before his scheduled departure.
Roychowdhury remains detained and will be transported from Boston to Wisconsin to face charges.
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