Last Friday, the Department of Justice announced that the FBI arrested an Ohio man who attempted to burn down a local church that was planning to host two drag shows over the previous weekend by tossing Molotov cocktails at the building, ABC News reported.
Prosecutors charged Aimenn Penny, 20, with possessing a destructive device and malicious use of explosive materials for the March 25 incident in which the Community Church of Chesterland in Ohio was vandalized and two Molotov cocktails caused only minor damage.
In investigating the incident, the FBI’s Cleveland field office found that Penny was part of a group called White Lives Matter, which espouses pro-Nazi, racist, and homophobic views.
According to prosecutors, during a drag queen event in Wadsworth, Ohio on March 11, Penny and other members of the White Lives Matter group showed up carrying swastika flags and shouting homophobic slurs. Penny, who was wearing military-style gear, was also carrying a firearm.
In its affidavit, the Justice Department also details what it describes as Penny’s other racist and homophobic activities, including an October 2022 incident in which he was interviewed by police for handing out racist flyers. During his police interview, Penny described blacks as a “problem” and warned that a racial civil war was coming.
Using a court order, investigators searched location data from Penny’s phone which placed him at the scene on the night of the attack.
Last Friday, a search of Penny’s home found a handwritten manifesto along with a Swastika flag and other Nazi memorabilia. While investigators were searching his residence, Penny admitted to making the Molotov cocktails and targeting the church.
According to the affidavit, Penny told investigators that he was trying to protect children by stopping the drag show from taking place. He claimed that he had grown angry after watching videos online and decided to set fire to the church. He expressed disappointment that the Molotov cocktails weren’t effective enough to burn the church to the ground.