🚨 A Toms River man has been arrested for throwing smoke bombs outside a church

🎵 Nicholas Mucci shouted, "White lives matter" at the crowd leaving an anti-racism concert, authorities say

⛪ Mucci may have ties to other "white supremacy motivated attacks," court documents indicate

ASBURY PARK — A Toms River man is accused of yelling "white lives matter" and throwing smoke bombs into a crowd of people outside a church earlier this year.

Nicholas Mucci, 28, faces multiple charges for the attack at Trinity Episcopal Church in Asbury Park on Jan. 27, the Attorney General's Office announced Monday. He was arrested on Saturday.

Nearly 200 people attended an anti-racism punk rock concert to benefit the One People's Project at the parish that evening. The organization, founded by New Jersey native and Antifa activist Daryle Lamont Jenkins, on its website states its mission is to combat right-wing groups and fight fascism.

As the crowd was leaving around 9 p.m., a man in a black face covering blocked the exit.

"White lives matter, too," Mucci shouted, according to a criminal complaint. He then threw two smoke bombs at the crowd and drove off in a dark-colored SUV.

Witnesses told investigators that for the next hour, they saw the vehicle circling the church. The complaint states that shortly after 10 p.m., Mucci returned and attempted to pepper spray the group while again shouting, "White lives matter."

Authorities say that Mucci had his phone turned off during the attack.

"Mucci had previously described this method of 'going dark' when engaging in white supremacy motivated attacks," the complaint states. The document does not expand on this statement.

Trinity Episcopal Church in Asbury Park. (Google Maps)
Trinity Episcopal Church in Asbury Park. (Google Maps)

READ MORE: Group at NJ church pepper-sprayed and smoke bombed

Mucci is charged with second-degree causing or risking widespread injury, second-degree possession of explosives for unlawful purposes, and third-degree charges of arson, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, and possession of a destructive device.

He is being held at Monmouth County jail pending a court appearance.

“Our perseverance in investigating and bringing to justice the person responsible for this attack demonstrates our commitment to protecting the rights of all New Jerseyans to live free from the threat of violence and fear," Attorney General Matthew Platkin said in a statement.

Trinity Episcopal Church rector Reverend Chase Danford said in the days following the attack that the church's Pride flag had been vandalized during the attack. Danford declined to comment when reached on Monday.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at richard.rickman@townsquaremedia.com

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