Authorities in Fort Pierce arrested a 32-year-old man on Wednesday afternoon in connection with a fire deliberately set at a house of worship.
Joseph Schreiber is charged with arson of the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce. Police say two anonymous phone calls, social media postings and surveillance video led them to arrest Schreiber. The accused has a criminal record and faces additional hate crime charges, police say.
Here's an earlier report:
A $10,000 bounty has been placed on the arsonist of a Fort Pierce mosque.
Late Sunday evening, a fire was started at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce. The fire caused extensive damages, ruined sections of the center and has state and local officials searching for answers.
“An arsonist lighting this mosque on fire is not good for anyone, it is not good for the community, it is not good for America,” said St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Major David Thompson, at a press conference on Monday.
The mosque has been on heightened alert when it was revealed earlier to be the place where the Pulse Nightclub mass shooter prayed. Bedar Bakht, a longtime member of the mosque, told NBC affiliate WPTV, threats of violence against the mosque have increased.
“Since that Orlando incident, we’ve had a lot of threats,” Bakht told the West Palm Beach television station. “Not personal threats, but people passing by cursing us out, giving us the finger.”
In a news release Wednesday, the Florida chapter for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) offered a reward of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist. Additionally, the Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention is offering a $5,000 reward.
Surveillance video captured a person, suspected of igniting the fire, approaching the building on motorcycle. In the video, the suspect appears to be carrying paper and a bottle of liquid. St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office is describing the suspect as a white or Hispanic man.
According to CAIR, this was the third arson at a Florida mosque this summer. The incident happened at the beginning of Eid ul-Adha, one of two annual Muslim holidays.