Detectives: Suspect in Florida mosque fire confessed

Source: Associated Press

By TERRY SPENCER

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — An ex-convict who posted anti-Islamic rants online confessed to setting fire to a mosque that the Orlando nightclub shooter occasionally attended, and said he was embarrassed by the crime, according to an arrest affidavit released Thursday.

St. Lucie County sheriff’s detectives wrote in the affidavit that after Joseph Michael Schreiber was arrested Wednesday, he told detectives that he had set the fire at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The blaze also coincided with the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha.

Schreiber, 32, told detectives he never intended to hurt anyone. No one was injured in the fire, which burned a 10-by-10-foot (3-by-3-meter) hole in the roof at the back of the mosque’s main building and blackened its eaves with soot.

Schreiber, who previously served two prison terms for theft, was developed as a suspect partly because of a tip from the public, the affidavit said.

He was arrested without incident Wednesday and charged with second-degree arson with a hate crime enhancement, a crime that carries a maximum 30-year sentence.

St. Lucie County Judge Philip Yacucci ordered Schreiber held without bail Thursday, calling him a danger to the community and a flight risk. He also noted that Schreiber had made anti-Islamic posts on social media. Last July, Schreiber posted on Facebook that “All Islam is radical” and that all Muslims should be treated as terrorists and criminals.

Schreiber, who is Jewish, stated that, “IF AMERICA truly wants peace and safety and pursuit of happiness they should consider all forms of ISLAM as radical. … ALL ISLAM IS RADICAL, and should be considered TERRORIST AND CRIMANALS (sic) and all hoo (sic) participate in such activity should be found guilty of WAR CRIM (sic) until law and order is restored in this beautiful free country.”

Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Florida, said Schreiber “obviously doesn’t know about the efforts our community is engaged in with our cousins, the Jews, not only in Florida but throughout the nation.”

Omar Saleh, an attorney for CAIR, described both Schreiber and nightclub shooter Omar Mateen as “degenerates” and “punks.”

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