Meriden mosque shooter sentenced to 6 months in prison - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Meriden mosque shooter sentenced to 6 months in prison

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Ted Hakey Jr. will be sentenced in the shooting of a Meriden mosque Ted Hakey Jr. will be sentenced in the shooting of a Meriden mosque

A Meriden man who professed his hatred for Muslims on Facebook and then fired rounds at an empty mosque, according to prosecutors, was sentenced on Friday morning.

Ted Hakey Jr. was sentenced to six months in prison with time served and three years of suspended release. He had faced up to 20 years.

"I wished I knocked on the door and I would've realized there's no terrorists in here," Hakey said. 

Hakey's comes after police said he fired four shots into the Baitul Aman Mosque in Meriden last November right after the Paris terror attacks. He said he was drunk and was blinded by the hate directed toward the Muslim community he saw online. That's when the former marine decided to take vigilante action against his neighboring mosque.

"My stupid thinking was if there are any terrorists over there, they'll see this and think twice" Hakey said. "It was drunk thinking." 

Hakey pleaded guilty to damaging religious property on Feb. 11.

"They are the furthest thing from terrorists or ISIS," Hakey said. "It was stupidity on my part."

Members of the Baitul Aman Mosque pleaded with the judge to lighten the sentence and preached forgiveness.

"It was a bit shocking, the first thing we do is pray," said Zahir Mannan, a youth mosque leader, after learning of the shooting.

Prayer and reflection eventually led to a meeting between mosque leaders and Hakey.

"We want Mr. Hakey to be our best friend," Mohammed Qureshi with Baitul Aman said. "We want him to be an advocate for us in terms of conquering Islamophobia."

Hakey said he knows he has to face reprocussions for his actions.

"What are they going to do, they can't just let me walk and I respect that, but it is what it is," said Hakey.

Prosecutors claimed Hakey wrote "all Muslims must die" on Facebook.

Court documents said police found two dozen guns, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and a bulletproof vest in his home which is located next to the mosque.

Hakey said that he had no intention of hitting the mosque.

"I was wrong and I admit that shooting was wrong, but did I want to hit the building, no," said Hakey.

Police said Hakey lied to the state about having guns in his house when he sponsored a felon on parole to live with him.

Hakey asked for forgiveness and mosque leaders said they felt it is deserved after meeting him.

"It was a very powerful meeting, like God's presence could be felt because of the connection that was there. The humility and the bravery for him to be honest and ask for forgiveness to us. And we had already to him, that we had already forgiven him, hearing indirectly that he wanted to apologize," explained Mannan.

Mosque leaders do not want Hakey to face any jail time and testified in court on Friday in support of him.

"A lot of people are thinking, 'no you did that just so you could get out of jail time, but it's not. When I get out, I'm doing work with them. They're really good people," said Hakey.

Mannan said Hakey's story could positively impact others.

"This is sending a message to the greater community that if you have any rancor, this is your time to change it. This is the story for you to get inspired and change your perspective and thereby prevent future violence and further divide," Mannan said.

Judge Shea, even the federal prosecutors, said they've never seen this type of forgiveness in their careers and that testimony played into Hakey's lower sentence, but outside of court, he insisted no prison time would have better served the community.

"Realistically, what would've worked more? Six months in jail or me working and educating people," Hakey said.

Hakey was sentenced at 1 p.m. on Friday. The "recommended guideline" for Hakey's crime of damaging religious property is 14 months. 

"What are they going to do, they can't just let me walk and I respect that, but it is what it is," Hakey said.

Court officials said Hakey must also pay $5,100 in restitution. He must also not have firearms or dangerous weapons.

Since his arrest, Hakey has been an online advocate for Islam. 

"He understood where we came from and since then it's been very positive for us," Qureshi said. 

But, some are wondering if Hakey's remorse is genuine.

"A lot of people are thinking, no you did that just so you could get out of jail time, but it's not," Hakey said. "When I get out, I'm doing to work with them. They're really good people."

Knowing the sentence could have been up to 20 years, Hakey said he's appreciative, but added he can do more on the outside than inside.

"It doesn't work. What works is educating people that all Muslims aren't terrorists. They aren't bad and if they are a terrorist," Hakey said. "They aren't Muslims because they're not following the Koran. I didn't know before, I wish I did." 

Hakey's sentence is six months, but it's more like five. He already served three weeks and the judge added that time served. Court officials said Hakey will surrender himself on Aug. 15. 

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