A Washington man convicted of setting fire to an LGBTQ+ bar had wanted to trap patrons inside before he was apprehended, the Department of Justice said on Friday. 

In a statement announcing the conviction of Kalvinn Garcia, 25, of Sedro Woolley, federal prosecutors said that Garcia admitted he was motivated by animus against the LGBTQ community when he attempted to set the Queer/Bar nightclub on fire two years ago.

On Feb. 24, 2020, Garcia set fire to the contents of a dumpster in the alley directly behind Queer/Bar in Seattle before being quickly arrested by law enforcement. According to the arresting officers on the scene, Garcia said he targeted the bar because it used "Queer" in its name, which angered him. 

One detective said that Garcia had recently become homeless, something he also blamed on the LGBTQ+ community. “I think it’s wrong that we have a bunch of queers in our society," Garcia was said to have told the officers.

Donald M. Voiret, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Seattle Field Office, said that Garcia's act "endangered and spread fear in the LGBTQ+" community. U.S. Attorney Nick Brown for the Western District of Washington added that Garcia's case demonstrated why it was necessary to "stand up to hate" and show the community that similar acts will "not be tolerated."

According to FBI data, about 8,052 hate crimes were committed against approximately 11,126 victims in 2020, the most recent year in which statistics are currently available. Of these incidents, the bureau said 20% of the victims were targeted on the basis of their sexual orientation while another 2.7% were victimized because of their gender identity. 

On May 17, President Joe Biden warned of "rising hate and violence" against the LGBTQ+ community in response to an uptick in aggressive rhetoric aimed at the group. 

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division promised that her agency, together with its partners, would continue to prosecute hate crimes and ensure that attacks against the LGBTQ+ community would not go unpunished. 

“Hate crimes have no place in our society today and we stand ready to use our federal civil rights laws to hold perpetrators accountable," said Clarke. "All people deserve to feel safe and secure living in their communities, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”