A man in Ames, Iowa, accused of tearing down a Pride flag from the front of a church and setting it on fire has been found guilty of a hate crime.
A jury in Story County found Adolfo Martinez, 30, guilty of a hate crime, third-degree harassment, reckless use of fire and being a habitual offender.
The habitual offender charge was in reference to previous charges of reckless use of fire.
According to Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds, this was the first time a hate crime was put before a jury in Story County.
Martinez faces up to 15 years in prison. A sentencing date has not been set at this time.
On June 11, Martinez was reportedly “making threats and acting out” at a gentlemen’s club named Dangerous Curves located at 111 Fifth Street. The police were called but Martinez had been ejected from the premises by the time they arrived.
Martinez apparently came back that night and told a bar 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 nearby.
He 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.
Ames Police Cmdr. Jason Tuttle told the Ames Tribune that while in custody, the 30-year-old confessed to tearing the flag down and burning it.
In an interview with local TV station KCCI, Martinez acknowledged he was guilty of the charges and admitted his actions stemmed from his hostility to the LGBTQ community. He added that it was “an honor and a blessing” to stand up for “the word of the Lord.”
The TV interview was played at his trial as evidence.