GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ – A New Jersey man has been charged for the bombing of a South Jersey gym on August 26th. According to the U.S. District Attorney in New Jersey, Dwayne A. Vandergrift placed an explosive device on the front door of a local gym near his home in Gloucester City.
A Camden County, New Jersey, man was charged today for detonating an explosive device at the G-City Crossfit gym. Police later caught Vandergrift with two more explosive devices and an illegal short-barreled rifle. His motive for the bombing was unknown, but the day after the bombing, the front door of the gym was boarded up. Many in the community suspect Vandergrift could have been triggered by the gym’s gay pride flag which covers most of the gym’s front window.
The gym has been known as a safe space for the LGBT community and it intended to break down the barriers of prejudice and to share a message of equality and acceptance to the LGBT community. Vandergrift detonated one bomb that shattered the gym’s front door and what police found at his home shows he had a lot more planned for the gym and its owners.
G-City Crossfit is owned by Jenai Gonzales and her wife Ann Panarello.
“Due to the large gay-pride flag hanging on the door where the bomb was placed and other factors, this crime is being investigated as a hate crime. G-City Crossfit had, and will continue to have, a large gay-pride flag displayed prominently in their front door,” said Steve Vitale, owner of Lifting Culture. “They are a known safe-haven in the area for LGBTQ youth. The owners themselves, many members, and several coaches are also gay. Yet, this facility is also home to people of all ages, ethnicities, and gender identities.”
Now the tattered and torn flag that was displayed on the front door hangs proudly in the window of the gym.
Dwayne A. Vandergrift Jr., 35, of Gloucester City, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with malicious use of explosives, unlawful possession of two destructive devices, and unlawful possession of a short-barreled rifle. Vandergrift will make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams at a later date.
According to the complaint:
During the early morning hours of Aug. 26, 2020, Vandergrift placed an explosive device on the front door of a local gym near his home in Gloucester City. Security camera footage recorded Vandergrift fleeing the area moments before the device exploded, badly damaging the front door and shattering its glass. On Aug. 28, 2020, federal and local law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Vandergrift’s home 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. Upon examining Vandergrift’s personal computer devices, investigators discovered that he had recently researched how to construct and utilize various explosive devices, including pipe and pressure cooker bombs. Vandergrift was arrested by local authorities on Aug. 28, 2020, and charged by the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. He is presently in custody on those charges.
The malicious use of explosive charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a maximum fine of $250,000. The charges for possession of the unregistered destructive devices and short-barreled rifle carry maximum prison terms of 10 years each and maximum fines of $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents and task force officers of the FBI’s South Jersey Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Driscoll and the FBI’s Philadelphia Joint Terrorism Task Force, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest. He also thanked officers of the Gloucester City Police Department, under the direction of Police Chief Brian Morrell; the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer; the Camden County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Gilbert L. Wilson; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Newark Field Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson; the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, under the direction of Director Jared Maples; Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason Molina; and the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gabriel J. Vidoni of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Camden.