Guerneville man arrested for taking rainbow flags and making threats

A man was arrested Saturday on suspicion of twice stealing a rainbow flag from outside the Chamber of Commerce in Guerneville, a popular gay resort town, and threatening to blow up a Safeway and a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office substation, law enforcement officials said.

The intent was to injure deputies and members of the LGBT community, officials said.

Vincent Joseph O’Sullivan, 55, was arrested by sheriff’s deputies and booked into Sonoma County Mail Adult Detention Center.

Guerneville, a small town in Sonoma County, has been known since the 1960s as a vacation hangout for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The town and the surrounding Russian River Valley area are known for gay bars, LGBT-friendly resorts and a large Pride parade.

A rainbow flag — symbolic of LGBT pride — hung outside the town’s Chamber of Commerce, 16200 1st Street. On April 26, the flag was stolen, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Lt. Eddie Engram said in a statement. A deputy took a report of the theft and began an investigation.

Then, on May 5, a replacement rainbow flag also disappeared, Engram said.

During the investigation of the thefts, “deputies were made aware of threats to manufacture a pipe bomb for the purpose of detonating it at the Guerneville Safeway, and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Guerneville substation,” Engram said.

After further investigation, O’Sullivan was arrested in connection with both cases, Engram added. O’Sullivan remains in custody, with a bail set at $50,000.

Sophie Haigney is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @SophieHaigney