Published: Fri, September 16, 2016
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Florida Mosque Fire Suspect Appears in Court, Is Denied Bail

An arrest has been made in the arson fire that heavily damaged the Florida mosque Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen occasionally attended, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.

The arson happened at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce. This undated booking photo released by the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office shows Joseph Michael Schreiber, 32, who was arrested Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, in Fort Pierce, Fla., and is facing a charge of ar.

Schreiber, who previously served two prison terms for theft, was developed as a suspect partly because of a tip from the public, the affidavit said. No one was hurt in the fire; however, a 10-by-10 foot hole was burned through the mosque roof.

The fire was set late on Sunday on the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

On Wednesday, St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office investigators said Schreiber had made numerous anti-Islamic posts on social media.

"During a post on Schreiber's page dated July 12, he makes reference to "all forms of Islam as radical", an investigator wrote".

The arsonist posted that "All Islam is radical" on Facebook last July, adding that he thinks all Muslims should be treated as terrorists and criminals.

The judge said he has a "serious concern" that Schreiber was a flight risk and found that no condition of release could "reasonably protect the community". Schreiber is reportedly Jewish.

Schreiber, who is Jewish, attended Temple Beth El Israel in Port St. Lucie three or four times about eight months ago to study the Torah, but Rabbi Bruce Benson says Schreiber was not a member of the congregation. He said Schreiber sometimes would say something against Muslims, but "we would tell him that's not what we believe, that it is not godly".

Mateen was killed by police after opening fire at the Pulse nightclub June 12 in a rampage that left 49 victims dead and 53 wounded. "ALL ISLAM IS RADICAL, and should be considered TERRORIST AND CRIMANALS [sic] and all hoo [sic] participate in such activity should be found guilty of WAR CRIM until law and order is restored in this handsome free country, all who agree with this statement, like it and make a comment".

The sheriff's affidavit said surveillance video showed a man arriving by motorcycle at the mosque late on Sunday.

"We would welcome the opportunity", Benson said.

At the news conference, Thompson said detectives were still questioning Schreiber on Wednesday evening, and he didn't say if Schreiber had a lawyer. The videos showed a man on a motorcycle around the same time as the fire.

Sunday's fire has left the mosque's members "saddened and scared", said assistant imam Hamaad Rahman.

Federal agencies are also investigating Schreiber and could bring additional charges.

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