Man who threw petrol bombs at church hosting drag events is jailed

A man who tried to burn down a church that supports LGBTQ+ rights has been jailed for 18 years.

Aimenn Penny threw two petrol bombs at the Community Church of Chesterland in Ohio on 25 March last year.

Prosecutors said the 20-year-old was angered by its plans to host two drag events.

The explosives hurled at the church destroyed its sign but otherwise did little damage.

A Nazi flag, a “White Lives Matter Ohio” T-shirt, a handwritten manifesto and a gas mask were among items discovered when he was arrested.

The church continued with the two events – a drag show at a restaurant and drag story time for children.

Penny, from the city of Alliance, pleaded guilty to arson, hate crime and using fire and explosives to commit a felony.

“This type of hate-fuelled attack against a church will not be tolerated in our country,” said assistant attorney general Kristen Clarke from the Justice Department.

“This defendant tried to burn down a church simply because its members created space for and provided support to the LGBTQ+ community.”

Larissa Knapp, from the FBI’s national security branch, added: “Individuals who commit acts of violence, destroy property, and interfere with the free exercise of religion will face justice for those crimes.”

The Justice Department said Penny would face three years’ supervision after his 18 years in prison.