(NationalUSNews.com) — A man from Alliance, Ohio, pleaded guilty to attempting to firebomb a church that hosted a drag show. According to reports, Aimenn D. Penny made Molotov cocktails, bottles with flammable liquid inside that can explode into a fire when thrown, and attempted to burn down the Community Church of Chesterland, Ohio.
Penny’s decision to firebomb the church was a response to the church’s outspoken support of the LGBTQ+ community, as the church planned to host two separate drag shows in a display of solidarity. The church is a known supporter of LGBTQ+ citizens, as the church’s sign features several flags sporting designs indicative of LGBT pride.
Upon his arrival at the church, Penny threw two Molotov cocktails into the building, hoping to burn it down, but he ultimately failed to start a widespread blaze. Penny allegedly violated the Church Arson Prevention Act, which imposes federal penalties for individuals who attempt to commit arson in religious places of worship. Penny faces charges of using fire to commit a federal felony, possessing a destructive device, and malicious use of explosive materials. Penny hasn’t been sentenced yet, but if the maximum penalty is imposed, he will spend over 30 years in prison. Penny’s case is a high-profile federal offense and will likely draw national attention if he decides against his plea deal and pursues a jury trial.
By pleading guilty to the attempted firebombing, Penny admitted to using explosive devices to interfere with and prevent the religious activities of a group of individuals. Penny’s guilty plea drew heavy scrutiny from Matthew G. Olson, the Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, who described Penny’s actions as “antithetical” to the core values of the United States.
Penny’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 24, 2024, and will take place in a federal district court. His failed firebombing marks the latest instance of violence against supporters of the LGBTQ+ community, such as the stabbing of a gay New York City resident, which resulted in the victim’s death.
Copyright 2023, NationalUSNews.com