Florida mosque attended by Orlando shooter intentionally burnt

Jeannie Blaylock anchors. 9/12/2016

FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office is continuing an investigation into a fire they believe was intentionally started at a mosque late Sunday evening.

The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office received an emergency call regarding flames coming from the Midway Rd. mosque just after midnight on Monday morning at approximately 12:31 a.m.

According to Major David Thompson of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, both the Fire District Investigator and the Florida State Fire Marshall have been working this active scene. 

While the flames have since been extinguished, initial investigations have revealed that this fire was intentionally started. Authorities say that video footage shows one suspect approached the building from the northeast side and then fled immediately after a "flash" appeared.

According to authorities, surveillance footage shows a possible white or Hispanic male arriving to the mosque on a motorcycle at approximately 11:38 p.m. The unknown suspect was carrying what appears to be paper and a bottle filled with some sort of flammable liquid.

The suspect in the surveillance footage appears to be wearing jeans with embroidery on the back pockets, a button-down shirt and a booney hat. Authorities believe the suspect might have burnt one of their arms during the incident.

"A fire at any place of worship is always a tragedy," said Thompson.

According to Thompson, this incident will be treated as a case of arson going forward. He has requested the help of both ATF and the FBI in solving this case.

The Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, located at 1104 West Midway Rd., has attracted national attention over recent months for some of its past members.

Since the Pulse nightclub massacre in June it has been revealed that Omar Mateen, the shooter who took the lives of 49 people and wounded more than 50, had attended this St. Lucie County mosque.

This is not the first act of violence this place of worship has witnessed. In July, a member of the congregation was physically assaulted outside the mosque. An individual, who was later caught by police, had pulled over and beat one of the members while they were attempting to get into their car. 

This is an ongoing investigation and new information is expected to be revealed. Footage of the suspect starting the fire is said to be released at some point in an effort to help catch the criminal.

(© 2016 WTLV)


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