Police arrested a suspect in connection with the vandalism at a mosque near Colorado State University, a case they are investigating as a hate crime. Joseph Scott Giaquinto, 35, was arrested on suspicion of several charges, including a crime motivated by bias, The Coloradoan reports. Police had asked for the public’s help in identifying the person who overturned benches, broke windows and threw a Bible into Islamic Centre of Fort Collins, which is about 60 miles north of Denver.
A police spokeswoman told the newspaper that she did not have details on how police came to identify Giaquinto as the suspect.
Police released two clips of surveillance video that captured the vandalism at the Islamic Centre of Fort Collins before dawn Sunday. In one, a man wearing a hoodie, believed to be in his late teens or early 20s, is shown picking up a paving stone and walking away. In another clip, he kicks a door.
The centre’s president, Tawfik Aboellail, said the man tried to break into the mosque about 4 am Sunday, but he did not get inside.
The vandalism prompted the centre to cancel religious classes for children that morning, but it has also led to an outpouring of support.
The Coloradoan reports that congregants from Plymouth Congregational Church visited after their morning service, and later about 1,000 people gathered at the mosque for a rally of support organised by a rabbi Sunday evening.
Many have also been making donations online to pay for repairs and improved security.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations had urged police to investigate the case as a possible hate crime. Police Chief John Hutto, who attended the support rally, said the incident has a “very real impact on our Muslim friends and neighbors.”
“The criminal act against their sacred space is unacceptable,” he said in a statement.
The vandalism comes about a month after someone threw a rock through a window at a mosque in the Denver area. The incident at the Colorado Muslim Society was also captured on surveillance video, but no one has been arrested.