Police arrest suspect after footage shows a man throwing rocks into mosque
Suspect charged with bias-motivated crime
Police arrested a 35-year-old man suspected of throwing rocks and a Bible at a Colorado mosque.
Surveillance video captured a person overturning benches, breaking windows and hurling objects into the prayer area of the Islamic Center of Fort Collins, police said. The incident occurred about 4 a.m. Sunday.
By Monday evening, Fort Collins police announced that they had arrested and charged Joseph Scott Giaquinto with criminal mischief, third-degree trespass and bias-motivated crime. It could not be immediately determined whether Giaquinto has an attorney.
“We will not tolerate acts of hatred in our community, and I hope this arrest sends that message loud and clear,” said police Chief John Hutto in a statement. “While the building can be repaired, this incident caused deeper hurt that won’t just go away.”
Hours after the vandalism, local residents attended a rally to show their support for the mosque. More than $20,000 was raised to help pay for repairs, reported CNN affiliate KCNC.
“I urge all of our citizens to continue showing the kind of support and acceptance demonstrated at the Islamic Center rally on Sunday night,” Hutto said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, had urged authorities to investigate the incident as a possible hate crime.
“Because of the use of a Bible in the vandalism, we would urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate the possibility of a bias motive for this attack on a house of worship,” said CAIR national communications director Ibrahim Hooper.
Police had said they were investigating it as a “bias-motivated crime.”
Local officials condemned the attack on Twitter.
“The vandalism that occurred at the Islamic Center in Ft. Collins is unacceptable. It’s time for us to stand in unity. These acts must end,” US Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) tweeted.
This recent act of vandalism follows “the worst year on record for incidents in which mosques were targets of bias,” according to CAIR.
From New York to California, the rights group has reported 33 incidents from January 1 to March 20 in which mosques were targets of threats, vandalism or arson.
The Islamic Center of Fort Collins was established in 1980 and was newly renovated in 2013.
CNN Joe Sutton and Sara Weisfeldt contributed to this report.