Arrest made in arson at Florida mosque where gunman prayed
Joseph Michael Schreiber is accused of starting the blaze that heavily damaged the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce
A Florida man who investigators say posted anti-Islamic material on social media was arrested on Wednesday on charges of setting fire to a mosque attended by the gunman who committed the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, police said.
The case is being prosecuted as a hate crime under Florida law, and the suspect, Joseph Michael Schreiber, 32, faces at least 30 years in prison if convicted of committing Monday’s arson attack, according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.
Schreiber is accused of starting the blaze that heavily damaged the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, a place of worship for gunman Omar Mateen before he shot 49 people to death and wounded 53 others at a gay nightclub in June.
Mateen himself was killed by law enforcement officers at the end of the shooting in Orlando, about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of the Atlantic coast town of Fort Pierce.
Fire erupted at the mosque at about 12:30 a.m. EDT on Monday, coinciding with one of the holiest of Muslim holidays, Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, and authorities immediately branded it an arson attack.