Man suspected of throwing a pipe bomb at The Satanic Temple in Massachusetts is arrested, prosecutors say

A suspect has been arrested for allegedly throwing a pipe bomb that damaged The Satanic Temple headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts, where investigators found a letter addressed, “Dear Satanist” at the scene last week, prosecutors announced.

Sean Patrick Palmer, 49, of Perkins, Oklahoma, was arrested Wednesday morning and has been charged with using fire or an explosive to damage a building used in interstate or foreign commerce during the April 8 incident, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said.

CNN has been unable to identify an attorney for Palmer.

Surveillance cameras captured a person igniting and throwing a pipe bomb over a fence and onto the covered porch of The Satanic Temple building at approximately 4:14 a.m., according to an affidavit written by an FBI agent. The explosive partially detonated and caused minor fire damage to the exterior of the building, according to the document.

No one was in the building at the time and staff discovered the damage later that day, according to Salem police.

The makeshift device was constructed using a plastic pipe covered with taped-on metal nails and filled with what was preliminarily identified as smokeless gunpowder, the affidavit said.

The surveillance footage also showed the man throwing a small item into the building’s flower bed, where investigators later found a handwritten note, the affidavit said.

The note, addressed “Dear Satanist,” references Elohim, a Hebrew name for God, and appears to allude to an incident of vandalism at the building last year, the affidavit said.

The letter reads, in part, “Elohim send me 7 months ago to give you peaceful message to hope you repent. You say no, Elohim now send me to smite Satan and I happy to obey,” according to the affidavit.

About 7 months ago, on September 11, the Satanic Temple headquarters was vandalized with Bible verses spray painted in white, according to the affidavit.

The Satanic Temple headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts, is located in a former funeral parlor. - The Satanic Temple of Salem/Facebook
The Satanic Temple headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts, is located in a former funeral parlor. - The Satanic Temple of Salem/Facebook

Palmer had not been charged in connection with that incident as of Wednesday.

Investigators also identified a car appearing to belong to Palmer that was in the area at the time of the incident, as well as a 2018 photo on the suspect’s Facebook that shows him wearing a tan vest similar to one worn by the man in the video, prosecutors said.

If found guilty, Palmer faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, prosecutors said.

Palmer will make an initial appearance in an Oklahoma district court on Thursday and is expected to appear in federal court in Boston at a later date, according to prosecutors.

The Satanic Temple’s social media accounts say it’s “the only federally recognized international (non-theistic) religious Satanic organization.” Its Salem headquarters are located in a former funeral parlor, where it maintains an art gallery with a permanent exhibit on Satanism, witch hunts and moral panic, its website says. Members also perform ceremonial events and hold meetings and lectures in the space.

In a news release, Salem police said the headquarters has been the target of bomb threats and possible hate crimes in the past, including a June 2022 incident during which a man was arrested on suspicion of arson, they said.

Earlier this year, a Michigan man also was arrested and charged in his state with planning to bomb the temple, according to the release.

In a statement on the arrest Wednesday, The Satanic Temple expressed thanks to police and federal investigators and “profound gratitude to the Salem community for the outpouring of support we have received during this challenging period.”

CNN’s Zenebou Sylla contributed to this report.

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