Around midnight on Sunday, the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, Florida was set ablaze in what police suspect was arson. The mosque was previously attended by Pulse Nightclub shooter Omar Mateen. The fire occurred on the 3-month anniversary of the horrific massacre.
ABC News reports:
The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said surveillance footage shows what appears to be a white or Hispanic male arriving at Florida’s Islamic Center of Fort Pierce on a Harley-Davidson-style motorcycle at approximately 11:38 p.m. on Sunday.
In the video, a man is seen approaching the building from the northeast side, and then a flash can be seen, according to the sheriff’s department. The male is then seen running from the building. He appears to be carrying “paper and a bottle of some type of liquid,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement.
You can watch the surveillance video released by the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office below.
According to ABC News, The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced in a statement today that special agents from its field office in Fort Pierce and certified fire investigators from its Miami field division are assisting the FBI and that the arson is being treated as a hate crime.
Police shared information about the fire on social media.
The weekend of the fire was not only the 3-month anniversary of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub Shooting, but was the day after the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It was also the same day as the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Major David Thompson of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office addressed the implications of the date in a press conference.
“Right now, I don’t want to speculate on a motive. We all know the implications of the date and the time of year,” said Major Thompson said in a press conference. “This is the 9/11 anniversary. Is that related? I would not want to speculate, but it is in the back of our minds. This is a horrible tragedy, not only for the Islamic Center but also for our community.”
We will keep you updated as more information is released in the case.