WASHINGTON — A member of the Ohio chapter of White Lives Matter has been charged with attacking a church with a Molotov cocktail in hopes of dragging it out for planning to host a religious gathering, the Justice Department announced Friday.
According to charging documents, Aymen Penny — who investigators say is part of a pro-Nazi and anti-gay group — admitted to using vodka and beer bottles and gasoline to target Community Church in Chesterfield outside Toledo.
On the morning of March 25, prosecutors allege church leaders found burning marks on an exterior sign and the front door of their building and a broken sign on the property. Church representatives told investigators that prior to the alleged attack, “they received hate mail and messages containing protests against drag incidents and non-specific threats of violence.”
The criminal complaint unsealed Friday was not the first time Penny has been targeted in the pulling incident. According to prosecutors, on March 11, she attended “a drag queen story hour to distribute propaganda flyers representing White Lives Matter, Ohio’s anti-drag queen viewpoint” and wore “military-style gear including camouflage pants, a tactical vest.” . Jacket with a patch showing a firearm.”
At that same event, according to the government, members of the White Lives Matter group “appeared at the event carrying swastika flags and chanting anti-racist and anti-gay slogans and ‘Heil Hitler’.”
In October of last year, the complaint alleges that Penny told local police that African Americans were “the problem” and that he was looking forward to a “civil war between races.”
Investigators say they were able to geolocate Penny’s phone on church property in the early morning hours of March 25.
During an FBI interview, charging documents allege that the defendant told investigators that he was responsible for the Chesterfield church attack and that he was “trying to protect the children and stop the drag show.”
“Penny stated that night that after watching news feeds and Internet videos of drag shows in France, he became even more enraged and decided to attack the church,” according to court documents. “(He) said he would have felt better if the Molotov cocktails had been more effective and burned the whole church to the ground.”
An attorney for Penny could not immediately be identified.
News of Penny targeting the church comes as investigators announced the arrest of a Wisconsin man accused of firebombing a government building in Wisconsin, prompted by his pro-access views.
According to the FBI, on Mother’s Day 2022, Hridindu Shankar Roychowdhury attacked the building with a mason jar, lighter and liquid accelerant that started an active fire.
“If abortion isn’t safe, neither are you,” graffiti outside the building allegedly read.
This month, according to the Justice Department, the defendant purchased a one-way ticket from Boston, Massachusetts to Guatemala, but was arrested at the airport before his scheduled departure.
Roy Chowdhury is being held and will be flown from Boston to Wisconsin to face charges.