An Iowa man accused of ripping down a pride banner from Ames United Church of Christ and setting it on fire has been found guilty of a hate crime on Wednesday, reports the Ames Tribune.
A jury found Adolfo Martinez, 30, guilty of a hate crime, third-degree harassment, reckless use of fire and habitual offender.
“Hate crimes will not be tolerated in our jurisdiction,” said Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds. “Offenders will be held accountable.”
Martinez now faces up to 15 years in prison.
On June 11, police were called to a gentlemen’s club named Dangerous Curves located at 111 Fifth Street because a man was reportedly “making threats and acting out.”
By the time police arrived, Martinez had been booted from the premises.
Later in the night, Martinez returned to the bar and told an employee he was going to burn the bar down. He added that he planned on burning a Pride flag hanging in front of the Ames United Church of Christ.
He left and returned with the flag in hand and set it on fire on Fifth Street, according to the police report.
He was arrested later that day.
While in custody Martinez admitted to ripping the flag down and burning it, Ames Police Cmdr. Jason Tuttle previously told the Tribune.
After posting bond, he admitted to KCCI-TV during an interview that he burned the flag because of his opinion of the LBGTQ community, and targeted the church, at Sixth Street and Kellogg Avenue, because of its support for the LBGTQ community.
The interview was used as evidence in court, Reynolds said.