Federal authorities have made an arrest in the bombing of a local New Jersey gym that is popular with the LGBTQ+ community and flew a rainbow pride flag outside its doors. Dwayne A. Vandergrift, Jr., 35, from Camden County, New Jersey, was charged with detonating an explosive device outside G-City Crossfit in Gloucester City on August 26. Vandergrift faces additional charges related to the explosion and investigation.
According to Craig Carpenito, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, Vandergrift placed an explosive device in front of G-City Crossfit gym in the early morning hours of August 26, and was captured on security video fleeing the scene just before the device exploded. The resulting blast left the front door and glass badly damaged.
Authorities executed a search warrant at Vandergrift’s home on August 28 and “found substantial quantities of bomb making materials, numerous weapons, including an unregistered short barreled rifle, several tactical vests outfitted with body armor and loaded 30-round ammunition magazines, and a marijuana grow operation containing approximately 85 marijuana plants.” After examining Vandergrift’s personal computer and devices, investigators learned he had recently conducted online research on “how to construct and utilize various explosive devices, including pipe and pressure cooker bombs.” He was taken into custody August 28 by the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.
Authorities revealed no motive for the crime. However, G-City Crossfit was known to be popular with members of the LGBTQ+ community, and flew a rainbow pride flag in a front-facing window. Their social media features rainbow colors in their logo as well as affirming message of support and inclusion for all members of the local community. The gym is owned by married couple Jenai Gonzales and Ann Panarello, a same-sex couple, according to Shore New Network.
Carpenito thanked special agents and the FBI’s South Jersey Resident Agency, as well as officers with the Gloucester City Police Department and other governmental agencies who assisted in the investigation and arrest.
Vandergrift faces extensive time in prison if convicted of the crimes with which he is charged. The malicious use of explosives charge alone carries a maximum 20 year prison term and a fine of up to $250,000. He currently remains in custody awaiting trial.