The Florida mosque once attended by Omar Mateen, the man who killed 49 mostly Latinx and queer people in the country’s largest mass shooting nearly three months ago, sustained fire damage after what authorities say was an arson attack.
— WPEC CBS12 News (@CBS12) September 12, 2016
CBS 12 reports that the blaze occurred early yesterday (September 12) morning. Investigators attributed it to an arsonist who was caught on surveillance video riding up to the mosque on a motorcycle, approaching the building’s side holding some kind of fluid and running off with a possible hand injury.
In a Facebook post yesterday morning, the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce confirmed the arson, which coincided with both the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attack and the beginning of the sacred holiday Eid al-Adha. Mosque leadership also created a crowdfunding page to raise $50,000 towards rebuilding the heavily damaged building. The Center’s Eid al-Adha ceremonies, planned for the morning of the blaze, will be moved to another Fort Pierce mosque.
One member of the Islamic Center of Ft. Pierce choking back tears after learning mosque was set on fire overnight. pic.twitter.com/37JGd1Ni1S
— Kara Duffy (@KaraDuffyCBS12) September 12, 2016
"Our family came out here just to pray, and this is what happens?" said one mosque member to a CBS 12 reporter in the video above.
This isn’t the first Islamophobic attack at the mosque. As CBS 12 previously reported, authorities charged a man with a hate crime for assaulting a member in the parking lot in July. The suspected reportedly said, "You Muslims need to go back to where you came from."