Contact Reporter Sun Sentinel
The Fort Pierce-area mosque once attended by Orlando shooter Omar Mateen is receiving threats and members are being intimidated, according to an Islamic group representing the mosque.
Since Mateen killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub June 12, the mosque has received threatening voice messages and was visited by a motorcycle group Sunday that circled the building yelling at congregants, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“They called it a ‘patriotic rally,'” said Wilfredo Ruiz, communications director for the council’s Florida chapter.
The messages left at the Fort Pierce Islamic Center had profanity, included racial slurs and alluded to physical harm, Ruiz said. He said people in the Muslim community — specifically those in the Fort Pierce area — are fearful that they might be attacked.
He said the mosque offered to pay law enforcement agencies for extra security, but they’ve been rebuffed.
“People in the community are afraid,” he said. “They are fearful for their safety and community. The imam told me, when I asked what is your main concern, he told me safety and security of his family and he was in tears when he told me that.”
A spokesman for the Saint Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said the agency has received no calls for service to the mosque since the shooting. In a statement to the Associated Press, Sheriff Ken Mascara said that deputies are patrolling the mosque more frequently but that the agency does not have enough staff to place guards there long term.
“Placing patrol units at specific locations by special request, even if reimbursed by the requesting party, is evaluated based on staffing levels and can at times limit our ability to maintain our mission and appropriately respond to the entire community,” Mascara said.