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 criminal mischief, third-degree trespass, and bias-motivated crime, according to CBS Denver.
Police had asked for the public’s help in identifying the person who overturned benches, broke windows and threw a Bible into Islamic Center 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 Center of Fort Collins before dawn Sunday. In one, a man is shown picking up a paving stone and walking away. In another clip, he kicks a door.
The center’s president, Tawfik Aboellail, said the man tried to break into the mosque about 4 a.m. Sunday, but he did not get inside.
The vandalism prompted the center 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 organized by a rabbi Sunday evening.
Many have also been making donations online to pay for repairs and improved security. CBS Denver reports that at least $20,000 had been donated as of Monday evening, which the mosque said would go toward repairs and hiring 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.”
“We will not tolerate acts of hatred in our community, and I hope this arrest sends that message loud and clear,” Hutto said in a statement. “While the building can be repaired, this incident caused deeper hurt that won’t just go away. I urge all of our citizens to continue showing the kind of support and acceptance demonstrated at the Islamic Center rally on Sunday night.”
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. Investigators in the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office have exhausted their leads, spokeswoman Julie Brooks said Monday.
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