Church Arson Suspect Sentenced To 39 Months In Prison

On Tuesday, Darion Sexton, 22, was sentenced to 39 months in prison for charges in connection to setting a church on fire in Loveland, Colorado. The sentencing date is just four days after the one-year anniversary of the tragic event that left local residents in shock.

On the evening of Jan. 14, 2023, the local fire department and Larimer County Sheriff’s department responded to a fire located at the Abiding Love Lutheran Church. When CBS interviewed the pastor of the church, he said he suspected someone had thrown, “some kind of accelerant inside the church.”

According to a report by 9News, one firebomb was thrown in the front door and another was tossed into the church basement. Fortunately, the sprinkler system helped in delaying the spread of the fire and the members of the church were safely evacuated. Nevertheless, the act was taken seriously by law enforcement and Darion Sexton was immediately detained after officers followed his footsteps to his residence.

Sexton said his motivation behind the hate crime was his dislike for religious organizations. He was seen on video footage wearing a mask and the firebombs were identified as Molotov cocktails.

In a Tuesday press release from the Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke wrote, “No one should live in fear because of their religious beliefs. The Justice Department will vigorously prosecute those who seek to destroy houses of worship and interfere with the fundamental right to practice religion freely.” She also stated that she believes Sexton has been held accountable and justice has been served on behalf of the church.

Special Agent Mark Michalek of the FBI Denver Field Office also contributed to the press release. He pointed to the fact that Sexton fully admitted to the act, which ultimately led to his charges of a hate crime at a federal level. Michalek went on to say that anyone who threatens or attacks a house of worship will be targeted by the FBI and have their “full attention.”

Another special agent on the case added that the FBI displayed their full commitment to the investigation by deploying all of its ATF resources at the time of the incident, including both detection canines and ATF Laboratory services. News of Sexton’s final sentencing and the DOJ’s supportive press release gave reassurance to the residents and church members of the Loveland community.