Jun. 13—SALEM — A Chelsea man took a bus from downtown Boston to Salem on Friday night and then followed GPS walking directions to The Satanic Temple on Bridge Street with one thing in mind.
"They're devil worshippers," Daniel Damien Lucey, 42, told Salem police Detective Wesley Regan shortly after the incident. When Regan asked what that meant to him, Lucey responded, "it means they need to be wiped out."
Lucey then said, "It's a hate crime."
Police don't disagree with that assessment, charging Lucey with a civil rights violation, destroying a place of worship, and arson.
Now Lucey, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, is being held without bail pending a hearing in Salem District Court next Tuesday to determine whether his release poses a danger to anyone.
Police say inside the 64 Bridge St. building were two Texas women staying in a room the organization rents out as a bed and breakfast and the manager.
It was just after 10 p.m. when Lucey, wearing a "God" T-shirt, was captured on a doorbell security camera dumping what investigators determined to be lighter fluid on the porch of the building, dropping his backpack on it and then setting the fire.
He told police he didn't know there were people inside, but "if they were devil worshipers, he would not lose sleep over it," Regan wrote.
Inside the backpack was a Bible, a copy of the U.S. Constitution, two quarts of lighter fluid and some sticks.
Investigators found burned Bible pages in the debris of the fire, which caused significant damage to the front of the building, and led to damage from water to other parts of the structure, police said.
Lucey has more than half a dozen prior property destruction and burning cases in Boston Municipal Court and was on probation for some of them, court records show.
As officers arrived at the scene, they spotted Lucey standing in a crowd of onlookers about 100 feet away from the fire — something police say is common for arsonists to do. But when Officer Keegan Stokes approached, Lucey turned and began walking away at a hurried pace across Bridge Street.
Stokes ran after him and grabbed him. Lucey tensed up and pulled away, the officer said in his report. After getting him into handcuffs, Stokes noted that Lucey didn't ask why he was being arrested.
Later on, he told the detective he intended to turn himself in.
Police said the manager was still shaking as she spoke to police, describing how she got an alert on her phone and saw what at first was someone delivering food. Then she saw the man throwing liquid on the porch and setting the fire. She called 911 and yelled to the guests.
Police also obtained doorbell video from at least one other resident that showed Lucey walking past their home about 20 minutes before the fire.
The Satanic Temple is an organization that advocates for First Amendment causes, sometimes stirring controversy. But it does not appear that any specific recent controversy played a role in Lucey's alleged decision to set the fire.
Lucey told police he was familiar with Salem from having dated a Salem State student in the past.
His attorney, Justin Edwards, said he couldn't comment on a motive.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, email@example.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis