Mosque where Omar Mateen worshipped set on fire, police looking at case as hate crime
Fourth Estate Staff
St. Lucie County, FL, United States (4E) – The mosque where the Orlando gunman, Omar Mateen , worshipped with his son when he was still alive was set on fire and authorities believe it is a hate crime.
A video footage showing the possible suspect in the fire was released by St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office. The man in the video seemed like he is white or Hispanic. He arrived at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce via a Harley Davidson-style motorcycle. The man reportedly arrived at around 11:38 P.M. on Sunday.
As the video progressed, the man was seen approaching the building from the northeast side. A flash was seen in the video and the man reemerges and was seen running from the mosque. He appeared to be carrying paper and bottle that had some sort of liquid. He was also seen waving his arm around after the flash so it is possible that he burned his hand.
Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida, said that earlier, around less than an hour before the mosque was set on fire, there were still people inside. He also said that Mateen did not regularly worship in the mosque but his family did.
The president of United Voices of America, Ahmed Bedier , who is also a Muslim, urged not only the Muslim community to stick together but everyone since he believes that an attack on any house of worship is an attack on all houses of worship.
Authorities are urging any witness to come forward with any information leading to the arrest of the suspect. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced that their special agents will be assisting the FBI and the local authorities such as the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Lucie County Fire District, and the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office in solving the case.
The timing of the fire also leads to the conclusion that it was really a hate crime as the fire broke out hours after the 15th anniversary of the tragic 9/11 attacks and the start of the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha .