Trump Supporter Arrested for Setting Pulse Nightclub Killer's Mosque on Fire
A suspect has been arrested in the torching of the Pulse nightclub shooter's former mosque, and he's reportedly a fan of Donald Trump.
The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office announced at a news conference that Joseph Michael Schreiber was arrested without incident Wednesday afternoon in connection with the arson that destroyed the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce Sunday.
A Facebook page that appears to belong to the 32-year-old features multiple conservative fringe news posts that are critical of Islam and supportive of the Republican nominee.
According to Major David Thompson of the sheriff's office, tips from members of the community, along with surveillance video from businesses and homes, linked Schreiber to the crime.
In surveillance footage released to the public in the hours following the blaze, a man on a motorcycle can be seen approaching the mosque before a flash is seen. The man then flees.
“A search warrant was obtained and a search of Schreiber’s house was conducted that revealed Schreiber owns a motorcycle consistent with the surveillance video footage,” said Thompson said at a news conference. “Other evidence collected also linked Schreiber to the arson."
Schreiber was charged with arson and with committing a hate crime.
As a hate crime, the second-degree felony of arson is enhanced to a first-degree felony and carries a possible 30-year prison sentence. He was booked into the St. Lucie County Jail without bond.
In a statement, the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office said "Schreiber is known to law enforcement and as such qualifies as a prison release re-offender that would impose a 30-year minimum mandatory sentence. He also qualifies as a habitual felony offender and could ultimately be sentenced to life in prison."
Earlier this week, Thompson addressed the conspicuous time of year for such an act. It came exactly three months to the day after the massacre at the club.
In addition, Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks as well as the start of Eid al-Adha, which is among the holiest of Muslim holidays.
"We all know the implications of the date and the time of year this is, the 9/11 anniversary. Is that related? Certainly that is in the back of our minds," he said.
Omar Mateen killed 49 people when he opened fire inside an Orlando gay nightclub in June. He was shot and killed following an hours-long standoff with police.
Mateen was among the members of the Fort Pierce Islamic Center. The mosque also once counted among its members Moner Mohammad Abu Salha, an American who killed several Syrian government soldiers in a 2014 suicide bombing in Jabal al-Arbaeen after joining the Taliban.
In June, Fort Pierce Islamic Center officials told WPEC that threats of violence against the mosque had escalated.