Matthew Lehigh pleaded guilty to multiple hate crimes across Boise over a week in 2022 (Picture: Ada County Sheriff’s Department)
A man in Idaho was sentenced to prison for an anti-LGBTQ crime spree, including multiple attempts to strike people with his car.
Matthew Lehigh, 32, pleaded guilty to two counts of hate crimes after terrorizing the LGBTQ community in Boise, Idaho for a week in 2022.
‘The defendant’s attacks on LGBTQI+ individuals were terrifying not only for the individual victims, but for our entire community,’ US Attorney Josh Hurwit said after the guilty plea on Thursday.
The crime spree began on October 5, 2022, when Lehigh ignited a rainbow pride flag displayed on a flagpole outside a private home in North Boise.
According to court documents, Lehigh obstructed the view of a doorbell camera before starting the fire.
Later that same day, Lehigh used a tire iron to smash the windows of the Metropolitan Community Church of Boise, an LGBTQ affirming congregation.
According to court records, Lehigh did so because he believed ‘the Bible mandates rejection and condemnation of individuals who pursue same-sex romantic relationships.’
Two days later, Lehigh stopped at a Whole Foods Market in downtown Boise, where he saw another shopper wearing a windbreaker with a ‘five-pointed star.’
Lehigh believed this meant the person was a ‘wiccan’ or ‘occultist.’ He approached the shopper and called him a slur.
The shopper tried to deescalate the conflict and walk away, but Lehigh continued following him and calling him slurs. He then punched the shopper in the head.
Whole Foods employees called the police, but Lehigh fled the store before they got there.
The next day, Lehigh approached a transgender employee of the Boise Public Library and assaulted her.
According to prosecutors, Lehigh called her a slur, punched her, and threatened to stab her before a security guard intervened.
The security guard tried to follow Lehigh on foot to his car when the attacker tried to accelerate and ram him.
The guard was able to dive for cover behind a nearby barrier. Lehigh then fled the scene.
Four days later, Lehigh tried to ram his car into a pair of women he presumed were lesbians.
The women were walking towards a car together when Lehigh began shouting slurs and accelerating, federal prosecutors said.
Lehigh shouted, ‘I’m going to run you over,’ followed by another slur.
The victims managed to dive out of the way of the Lehigh’s vehicle, but he did strike their car.
Lehigh admitted to the entire crime spree as part of his plea agreement. His attorneys told the court he was not violent until his mental health deteriorated.
While pleading guilty, Lehigh apologized to his victims.
‘I don’t have too much to say other than just my regret and my great gratitude that things didn’t end up worse than they did,’ he told the court.
Lehigh was sentenced to 37 months in a federal prison for the attacks.
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Matthew Lehigh pleaded guilty to two counts of hate crimes after terrorizing the LGBTQ community in Boise.