A man has been arrested for firing several shots at a mosque in South Meriden last month.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office in New Haven said Ted Hakey, Jr., 48, was taken into custody on Thursday.
Tom Carson said Hakey was the one responsible for firing at the Baitul Aman Mosque on Main Street not long after terrorist attacks rocked Paris on Nov. 13.
Hakey appeared before a U.S. magistrate judge in New Haven federal court at 11 a.m. on Friday.
He was charged with intentionally damaging religious property and ordered to be detained by U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Merriam.
"These are hate filled crimes. We're sorry he wasn't able to come to our mosque, the house of peace and learn about the true teachings of Islam," said Zahir Mannan, who is the former mosque youth leader.
A complaint about the shooting was filed on Nov. 14 during the early morning hours, according to Deidre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut.
Four bullets hit the mosque with three penetrating the building. No one was inside at the time and no one was hurt.
Hakey lives right next door to the mosque, according to Carson.
"All citizens of this earth should be free to worship without fear of violence," Daly said. "As Americans, we must not let fear drive us away from our values and toward hateful and divisive acts against others."
According to court documents, police found 18 shell casings from a high-powered rifle in Hackey's yard, along with two dozen guns, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, and a bullet-proof vest in his house.
After a night of drinking, Hakey claimed he was aiming at a wood pile, and repeatedly told police he had no hatred toward his neighbors, but according to the FBI, on the day of the shooting, Hakey allegedly sent a text that said "If the Muslims attack over here again its over for them! Americans will snap and play Cowboys and Muslims. It will get ugly."
The leaders of the mosque said they were shocked to find bullet holes in the men's prayer area. A spokesperson told Eyewitness News that they have been using the incident to educate people about Islam.
The incident led to police stepping up patrols in the area.
The FBI also investigated the case.
"This arrest should serve as a clear message that crimes of hate against individuals of any race, creed, gender or religious background will not be tolerated," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia Ferrick. "This is the result of FBI, ATF, Connecticut State Police and the Meriden Police Department working night and day to bring some degree of comfort to a community that has been victimized by fear and hate."
"I feel the terrorists have hijacked our religion and we have to take it back from them," said Mohammad Qureshi, mosque president.
The charge of intentionally damaging religious property through use of a dangerous weapon carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Copyright 2015 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Raising awareness about a new call to boost patrols around mosques was the topic of a news conference held at the State Capitol on Friday morning.More >