Arson Suspected in Fire at Florida Mosque Attended by Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen
iStock/Thinkstock(FORT PIERCE, Fla.) — Investigators suspect arson in a blaze that broke out overnight in the mosque attended by Omar Mateen, the shooter in the Orlando nightclub massacre that claimed the lives of 49 people and injured dozens more.
Emergency responders received a call at about 12:31 a.m. Monday reporting a fire at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, Florida, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said. St. Lucie County Fire District crews responded and extinguished the fire.
Investigators said evidence points to an intentional fire, and the Sheriff’s office is investigating the incident as arson, officials said at a morning press conference Monday.
Surveillance video shows an individual walking up to the east side of the building prior to a flash and a fire breaking out, Major David Thompson, of the Sheriff’s Office, said.
The blaze broke out just hours after the passing of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, on the three-month anniversary of the Jun. 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and also on the same day as the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
“Right now I don’t want to speculate on a motive,” Maj. Thompson said. “We all know the implications of the date and the time of year, 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,” Maj. Thompson added, “not only for the Islamic Center, but also for our community.”
Authorities said they would release the surveillance video as soon as possible.
This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.
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