About two months before Joseph Michael Schreiber allegedly tried to burn down a mosque sometimes attended by Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, he posted on Facebook that ‘All Islam is radical’ and that all Muslims should be treated as terrorists and criminals.
Schreiber, 32, was arrested without incident on Wednesday afternoon and was being interrogated by investigators looking into the fire set late Sunday at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, said Maj David Thompson of the St Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.
A July post placed on Facebook by Schreiber, who is Jewish, stated that, “if america truly wants peace and safety and pursuit of happiness they should consider all forms of islam as radical. … all islam is radical, and should be considered terrorist and crimanals (sic) and all hoo (sic) participate in such activity should be found guilty of war crim (sic) until law and order is restored in this beautiful free country.”
Thompson told a news conference that Schreiber, who has a criminal record, was taken into custody on a street in Fort Pierce by authorities acting on tips from members of the community and aided by surveillance video taken from the mosque and elsewhere.
He said the arson charge, coupled with a hate crime enhancement under Florida law, carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Thompson said detectives were still questioning Schreiber Wednesday evening, and he didn’t say if Schreiber had a lawyer.
The fire was set late Sunday on the 15th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The blaze also coincided with the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha. No one was injured in the fire, which burned a 10-by-10-foot hole in the roof at the back of the mosque’s main building and blackened its eaves with soot.
Thompson said a search warrant was executed at Schreiber’s home, where investigators reported finding evidence linked to the arson, as well as anti-Islamic social media posts.
Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Florida, said Schreiber “obviously doesn’t know about the efforts our community is engaged in with our cousins, the Jews, not only in Florida but throughout the nation.”
Omar Saleh, an attorney for CAIR, described both Schreiber and Mateen as “degenerates” and “punks.”
“Just like on June 12, when I was stressing that Mateen’s actions do not speak on behalf of Islam, I know that whatever religion Schreiber is, his actions do not speak on behalf of his religion,” Saleh said.
Mateen was killed by police after opening fire at the Pulse nightclub on June 12 in a rampage that left 49 victims dead and 53 wounded, making it the worst mass shooting in modern US history.