ALLIANCE, Ohio (WKBN) — A man from Alliance is facing federal charges, accused of trying to set a church on fire.
Investigators say Aimenn Penny, 20, used Molotov cocktails against the Community Church of Chesterland (CCC), in Chesterland, Ohio, in an attempt to burn the church to the ground for hosting drag shows. He is charged with malicious use of explosive materials and possessing a destructive device.
Church officials say the building was damaged during the night of March 25 by what appeared to be Molotov cocktails. Its sign was also damaged.
Representatives of CCC reported that they received hate mail and messages containing
non-specific threats of protest and violence against drag events scheduled for April.
There were scorch marks on the doors and exterior of the building and the sign was broken.
DNA was taken from the bottles left behind and other evidence at the scene.
Investigators received a tip that Penny was responsible for the attack and they were able to place him at the church during the time that the incident happened at CCC. They say Penny was also involved in the White Lives Matter group, which has racist, pro-Nazi and homophobic views, according to the criminal complaint.
Penny was also part of a drag queen protest in Wadsworth on March 11 when he showed up carrying swastika flags and shouting racial and homophobic slurs, the complaint stated.
Investigators say that during a search of Penny’s home on Friday, he admitted to building the Molotov cocktails and deploying them at the church with the intent to burn it down. He said he was trying to protect children and stop the drag show event by burning the church and regretted that it didn’t work, according to the complaint.
The search of Penny’s residence revealed, among other things, a hand-written manifesto that contained ideological statements, a Nazi flag, Nazi memorabilia, a White Lives Matter of Ohio t-shirt, a gas mask, multiple rolls of blue painter’s tape and gas cans.