The U.S. Attorney's Office says 25-year-old Kalvinn Garcia pleaded guilty Thursday to committing a hate crime, connected to the arson at the LGBTQ-friendly nightclub on Feb. 24, 2020.
"The defendant targeted the patrons inside Queer/Bar, a known safe space for the LGBTQI+ community," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. "Hate crimes have no place in our society today, and we stand ready to use our federal civil rights laws to hold perpetrators accountable. All people deserve to feel safe and secure living in their communities, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity."
According to court documents, Garcia was arrested minutes after he was suspected of setting the fire at Queer/Bar. He reportedly told officers he targeted the club because it angered him to see the word "queer." The Attorney's Office said Garcia told officers, "I think it’s wrong that we have a bunch of queers in our society."
A few weeks later, Garcia reportedly told a stranger he intended to trap people inside the club and hurt them by setting the fire.
"Mr. Garcia endangered countless people who he did not know, and who were simply trying to live their lives, solely because of his own hatred," said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. "We must stand up to this hate at every opportunity, to demonstrate to our community that acting on hate will not be tolerated."
The Attorney's Office said Garcia faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Garcia is scheduled to be sentenced Sep. 20, 2022.