Jewish man arrested for arson of mosque attended by Orlando nightclub shooter

The case is being prosecuted as a hate crime under Florida law, which carries a minimum 30-year prison sentence.

September 15, 2016 15:42
1 minute read.
Orlando Shooting

Investigators work the scene following a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando Florida, U.S. June 12, 2016.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

A Jewish man in Florida has been arrested for the alleged arson of the mosque attended by Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen.

Joseph Michael Schreiber, 32, was arrested on Wednesday. A large fire engulfed the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce early Monday morning, occurring on the Muslim holy days of Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice. No one was in the mosque at the time of the blaze. The mosque held its prayer services elsewhere due to the fire.

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The case is being prosecuted as a hate crime under Florida law, Reuters reported, citing the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, which carries a minimum 30-year prison sentence.

Surveillance video showed a man riding up to the building on a motorcycle and approaching the mosque with a bottle of liquid and papers right before the fire broke out, according to the report.

Schreiber, a resident of Port St. Lucie, owns a motorcycle like the one seen in the video, Sheriff’s Major David Thompson told reporters Wednesday. In addition, Schreiber’s Facebook page includes “multiple anti-Islamic posts and comments,” he said. Schreiber is considered a “prison release re-offender, ” and his criminal record includes armed robbery, according to Reuters.

The FBI is investigating whether the attack included any federal civil rights violations

In June, Mateen, 29, entered the crowded Pulse nightclub, a popular gay dance club in Orlando, and began shooting the some 300 patrons with an assault rifle and a handgun and then holding some hostage in a bathroom. He said the attack was inspired by the Islamic State.

Mateen was later killed by police during a shoot out. Some 49 people were killed and 53 wounded in the attack.

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