Skip to main content

California Man Reportedly Set Fire To Mosque, Arrested On Hate Crime Charges

A 23-year-old man in California has been arrested in connection to a fire at a mosque in the city of Coachella. The man has been arrested on charges of hate crimes and arson.

The young man's father and mother have made it clear that they have no plans to bail their son out, reports The Daily Mail.

'We have no plans to bail him out," the father told NBC News. "He's an adult."

The suspect, Carl James Deal Jr., was arrested on Dec. 12 and booked on charges of suspicion of arson, a hate crime and a felony burglary. The Coachella mosque was reported to be on fire at roughly 12:10 p.m. on Dec. 11, according to the Los Angeles Times. CNN reports four or five people were praying inside the mosque when the fire began.

Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit suspected the fire may have been caused by an incendiary device, and the Sheriff's Department believes it was an intentional act.

"Terrorism should not beget terrorism and that's what this would be if in fact there was someone who threw a device in this mosque with the intention of destroying the mosque or hurting the people inside who were praying," he said.

Federal and local authorities are investigating the matter further.

The incident comes as a possible backlash rippling from the Dec. 2 San Bernardino shootings by two radicalized ISIS supporters. Benoit told the Los Angeles Times that he was alarmed that it may have been a target, and warned against painting any large group of people as "undesirable" based on the actions committed by a minority within that group.

“If in fact it was done with the mosque as a target ... it's reprehensible, and the people who perpetrated that act should be treated the way we would any other terrorist," Benoit said.

Hussam Ayloush, who serves as executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations in the greater Los Angeles area, said that the fact that someone was arrested in the case brought some respite and relief to members of the congregation.

"We hope it serves as a reminder that, unfortunately, hate speech has consequences. Hate incidents do not occur in a vacuum," said Ayloush. "They are the natural result of a climate fueled by hatred, by fear-mongering."

While he did not explicitly say he believed this incident occurred as a response to the San Bernardino shootings, Ayloush did say that he "would not be surprised" if it turned out to be a misguided response to that incident.

Sources: Los Angeles Times via KTLA, CNN / Photo credit: Riverside County PD via CNN

Popular Video