LOVELAND, Colo. — A Colorado man plead guilty to a federal hate crime charge Thursday after he used Molotov cocktails to set fire to a Loveland church in January.
The arson happened at Abiding Love Lutheran Church, located at 2825 East 1st Street, on the evening of January 19.
According to the Department of Justice, Darion Ray Sexton, 22, threw two Molotov cocktails at the church — one at the front door and the other at the basement. He told authorities the religious character of the church motivated his actions, and that he intended to destroy the church, the DOJ said in a release.
“We all have a right to feel safe and secure in our houses of worship – no matter our religion or belief,” U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan for the District of Colorado said in a statement. “An act of violence in one of our sacred places is especially serious, and we will work with our law enforcement partners to vigorously prosecute all such offenses.”
Loveland man charged in connection with church fire
No one was injured, and the church suffered minimal damage.
“I am extremely proud of all of the personnel who participated in this investigation. This case serves as a positive example when law enforcement agencies come together to protect our community," Loveland Police Chief Tim Doran said in a statement.
Sexton's sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 21. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the DOJ.