Matthew Lehigh, who was arrested on Wednesday after allegedly driving his vehicle at two women and yelling a homophobic slur, faces new charges after he admitted to committing several crimes targeting the LGBTQ community.
Lehigh, 31, was charged with felony arson on Friday for allegedly burning a pride flag in the North End of Boise, Boise police spokesperson Haley Kramer told the Idaho Statesman. He also admitted to stealing various pride flags in the North End neighborhood and breaking a window at an LGBTQ community center, Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Michael Guy said in an arraignment Friday.
“He has behavior that is increasingly agitated, increasingly aggressive and culminated in the events that led to his arrest,” Guy said.
No charges have been added for his alleged vandalism of The Community Center, on North Orchard Street, as of Friday afternoon. The investigation into the vandalism is ongoing, Kramer told the Statesman.
Lehigh was arrested on three felony counts of aggravated assault and a misdemeanor of malicious injury to property. Boise police arrested him after he allegedly yelled a homophobic slur at two women in a parking lot and drove his vehicle toward them. The women dodged his car, and he hit their vehicle and drove off, police said.
It was the second reported incident of him yelling the homophobic slur and driving his vehicle toward someone. Police had been searching for him since Saturday.
Boise police cannot prosecute the suspect of a hate crime against the LGBTQ community, the Idaho Statesman previously reported.
Idaho’s malicious harassment statute, commonly known as the hate crime law, refers to malicious harassment as the “intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin.” The definition excludes sexual orientation or gender identity.
In an arraignment hearing on Friday, Ada County Magistrate Judge Kira Lynn Dale signed a no contact order to prevent Lehigh from coming into contact with Brett Perry and John Michael Schert, the couple whose pride flag was burned on their property.
Lehigh is in custody at the Ada County Jail. His bond was set for $1.5 million – $1 million for the alleged aggravated assaults and $500,000 for the alleged arson.
Ada County court records showed he was ordered a competency evaluation. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Oct. 26.
The Boise Police Department asks victims or anyone with information about the suspect to contact the Ada County Dispatch at 208-377-6790 or contact LGTBQ Liaison Officer Dan Lister at email@example.com. To make an anonymous tip, call Crimestoppers at (208) 343-COPS.
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