FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — Authorities in Florida are investigating an early Monday fire at the mosque that was attended by the Orlando nightclub shooter as a possible arson.
No injuries were reported in the fire, which happened on the first day of Eid al-Adha, the most important Muslim holiday. Monday was also the three-month anniversary of the deadly Orlando shooting.
In an update on its official Facebook page, The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said surveillance video shows someone approaching the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce around 12:30 a.m. Monday, moments before a flash was seen and the fire started. Firefighters extinguished the fire and there was no word about how much damage the fire caused.
The mosque had been attended by Omar Mateen, who opened fire at the Pulse nightclub on June 12 in a rampage that left 49 victims dead and 53 wounded. It was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Early Monday, Maj. David Thompson of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office declined to speculate on whether the Sunday anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks played a role in the fire.
Multiple agencies, including the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI, are investigating. Sheriff’s officials said they will be releasing the video and asking for the public’s help in identifying the person responsible for the fire.
It’s not the first time the mosque has seen trouble since the Orlando attack.
A few weeks after the nightclub shooting, a man was beaten outside the mosque, according to Sheriff Ken J. Mascara. Early on July 2, deputies were called by a man who said someone was trying to burglarize a vehicle. Arriving deputies found a man bleeding from the mouth who told them he was approached by someone who “asked him what he was doing and then punched him several times in the face and head.”
The man was stopped by deputies and arrested a short time later.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a statement that a man in a truck had stopped outside the mosque earlier that day and made slurs, including, “you Muslims need to get back to your country.”
Mateen’s father is among the roughly 100 members that attend the mosque.
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