Cape Cod man charged with attempted arson of Brazilian restaurant in Hyannis

Lucas B. Penna
Lucas B. Penna
Barnstable Police Department

A Cape Cod man was arrested after he was identified as the culprit who tried to torch a Brazilian restaurant in Hyannis, and then later threw a brick through the restaurant’s window, police said.

Lucas B. Penna, 43, was arraigned in Barnstable District Court Monday on charges of attempting to burn a building, willful injury to a building, and possession of an infernal machine, a Molotov cocktail. Penna is a national of Brazil who is living in the United States on a visa, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement has now placed a detainer for his arrest, for possible deportation, authorities said.

Penna pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, but was sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is criminally responsible for his alleged crimes. He is due to return to court on Jan. 29, and is being held without bail.

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Fabio De Oliviera, the owner of the Prova Brazil restaurant in Hyannis that Penna allegedly targeted, said in an interview that Penna appears to suffer from mental illness, and that he recently had a fit in a church on Main Street. No one called police, however, and he was not arrested. De Oliveira said he has also seen Penna having fits on Main Street, and recently took a photo of him.

Penna had applied for a job at his restaurant about five months ago, before the restaurant opened, but did not get one. De Oliviera did not know him otherwise, however, and did not know his name. He said he knows of no other connection Penna would have to the restaurant.

“It was a random thing that happened,” De Oliviera said, adding that he was thankful that his video surveillance caught it on camera, and that police made an arrest. “People are saying that it’s a good thing we took the guy off the street, you never know when something like this would happen.”

Penna was arrested by Barnstable Police Officer Matthew Bulman Friday morning after Bulman – who has encountered Penna for unspecified reasons before — identified him as the suspect in the video surveillance.

The footage showed that at about 1:30 a.m. that morning a man operating a moped stopped on the side of the restaurant and then threw a bottle at the building. The man then threw a brick through the window. Authorities later found that the bottle contained flammable liquid.

Later Friday morning, Bulman encountered Penna operating his moped on Main Street. He was arrested without incident.