SALEM, MA – A 42-year-old Chelsea man told Salem police he traveled to Salem to commit a “hate crime” by setting fire to the porch of the Satanic Temple on Friday night, according to a statement from the police on Saturday morning.
Salem Police Chief Lucas Miller said in the news release that an investigation determined that Daniel Damien Lucey, 42, deliberately set the fire Friday night by pouring flammable liquid on the porch and burning it. lighting up with a cigarette.
Police say Lucey remained at the scene and was arrested without incident.
“When questioned, Lucey admitted to traveling to Salem for the express purpose of burning down the Temple,” Miller said. “Lucey said he considers his actions a ‘hate crime’.”
Lucey was charged with arson, civil rights violation and destruction of a place of worship.
Police say crews responded to the Bridge Street Temple Friday evening around 10 a.m. and found the porch on fire. Officers were unable to extinguish the flames and Salem firefighters quickly arrived and brought the blaze under control.
The building was evacuated and suffered damage to the porch. There are no casualties.
“I am extremely grateful for the prompt and professional response of the Salem Police and Fire Department to last night’s attempted arson and I share our community’s relief that no one was injured in this horrific incident” , Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said Saturday. “On behalf of the City of Salem, we condemn this heinous attack.
“Salem is a welcoming place, and this individual’s actions do not reflect who we are or our values as a community.”
The Satanic Temple said on Saturday that the temple and art gallery would be temporarily closed due to fire damage.
“Thank you for the outpouring of support,” the Satanic Temple posted. on his Facebook page. “Everyone is safe and will be fine.”
The Satanic Temple lists its mission statement as, “To encourage benevolence and empathy among all, reject tyrannical authority, uphold common sense, oppose injustice, and undertake noble pursuits.”
(Scott Souza is a Patch field editor covering Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem and Swampscott. He can be reached at Scott.Souza@Patch.com. Twitter: @Scott_Souza.)