Man Told Officers He Set Satanic Temple on Fire as ‘Hate Crime

Daniel Damien Lucey, of Chelsea, "made statements that he considered his actions a 'hate crime,'" according to Salem police

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A fire was set at the Satanic Temple in Salem, Massachusetts, late Friday night, and a man from Chelsea was arrested on charges including arson, police said.

The suspected arsonist described his own actions as a "hate crime," according to the Salem Police Department.

Daniel Damien Lucey, 42, was arrested at the scene of the fire, Salem police confirmed Saturday. Lucey faces multiple charges in connection with the fire at the Satanic Temple on Bridge Street.

Several people called 911 about the fire around 10 p.m. Friday. Police found the front porch up in flames when they arrived and tried to put it out with fire extinguishers, but were unsuccessful.

The building was evacuated and the Salem Fire Department put out the blaze. The front porch of the Temple was damaged but no one was injured. Investigators determined that the fire was deliberately set.

When interviewed by police, Lucey allegedly admitted to traveling to Salem to set the temple on fire. Police said Lucey "made statements that he considered his actions a 'hate crime.'"

Lucey remained in custody Saturday on charges of arson, civil rights violations and destruction of a place of worship. He was seen pouring a flammable liquid on the porch and lighting it on fire, police said.

Lucien Greaves, the temple’s co-founder and spokesperson, posted on Twitter what appeared to be security camera images of a man wearing a gray T-shirt adorned with the word "GOD."

Greaves said the man was spreading accelerant on the temple's headquarters, specifically saying he believed the suspect used gasoline. The pictures Greaves shared also showed flames in at least two areas of the temple's porch.

According to Greaves, the damage to the temple was “not insignificant.”

“It went up fast,” he wrote on Twitter. He shared the video with NBC Boston as well.

Greaves later told his social media followers that Salem police had apprehended the suspect, saying he was "apparently too stupid to not try to watch the flames instead of staying hidden."

"I am enormously grateful for the quick and professional response by the Salem Police and Fire departments to last night’s criminal arson attempt and share our community’s relief that no one was hurt in this awful incident," Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said. "We condemn this hateful attack. Salem is a welcoming place, and the actions of this individual are not reflective of who we are or our values as a community.”

The Satanic Temple is an advocacy group that pushes for the strict separation of church and state and other civil rights issues, filing lawsuits that seek representation for its members' satanic beliefs in government forums the same way other religions have their tenets recognized. It claims about 600,000 registered members around the world.

Last month, following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Boston violated the free speech rights of a conservative activist seeking to fly a Christian flag outside, the Satanic Temple requested to fly a flag of its own over the building downtown.

NBC's Asher Klein and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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