Man arrested after allegedly planning to bomb Satanic Temple in Salem


Salem police said the kind of attack 30-year-old Luke Isaac Terpstra was planning “keeps [them] up at night.”

The Satanic Temple on Bridge Street in Salem. Katherine McCabe/Globe Photo

A Michigan man was arrested and charged Jan. 2 after police say he planned to bomb the Satanic Temple in Salem.

According to a Jan. 12 press release by the Salem Police Department, 30-year-old Luke Isaac Terpstra was arrested and charged with possession of bombs with unlawful intent, after an investigation by the Grant Police Department in Michigan. 

Michigan investigators believe Terpsta intended to target the Satanic Temple in Salem and traveled to Salem in November for “planning purposes.” There is no indication that he acted with any accomplices, the press release stated. 

“The City of Salem and the Salem Police Department recognize that it is frightening and concerning that there are individuals who would threaten or carry out violent attacks against others based on their beliefs and that we are a target,” Salem police said in the press release. “On the one hand it is gratifying that our federal and local partners were able to thwart Tarpstra. On the other, it is terrifying that he walked in our midst planning such violence.”

Both the Michigan State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are involved in the ongoing investigation into Terpsta. 

Though Salem police said they carry out training and have equipment to deal with attacks like Terpstra was planning, the kind of assault Terpstra was allegedly plotting “keeps [them] up at night,” according to the press release. 

The Satanic Temple is a religious organization that encourages “benevolence and empathy among all people,” rejects tyranny, advocates for “practical common sense,” opposes injustice, and undertakes “noble pursuits,” according to its website. 

The temple in Salem is the international headquarters for The Satanic Temple and maintains an art gallery of original contemporary and historical works of art. 

“Salem is a diverse, vibrant, and welcoming community and the City and the Police Department of Salem are committed to ensuring the safety of all who live in, work in, or visit the community,” the press release said.