NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Federal authorities have made an arrest after bullets hit a Meriden Mosque last month.
United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Deirdre Daly, announced Friday that 48-year-old Ted Hakey Jr., of Meriden, has been arrested on a federal criminal complaint charging him with intentionally damaging religious property, the Baitul Aman Mosque in Meriden.
Court documents indicate Hakey was arrested Thursday night. He appeared in federal court in New Haven late Friday morning, and was ordered detained.
On November 14th, shortly after learning of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Hakey who lived next door to the Mosque used his high powered rifle to discharge several rounds at the Mosque, according to court documents released Friday. Four bullets hit the mosque, with three penetrating the building. No one was hurt, as the mosque was empty at the time of the shooting.
A search of Hakey’s phone by officials found this deleted text from July 17th, 2015:
I want to take the jewzi and unload on Muslims. I’m in a target rich environment” Another text from Hakey’s phone, dated November 14th 2015 read:
“If the Muslims attack over here again it’s over for them!!! Americans will snap and play Cowboys and Muslims”
U.S. Attorney Daly issued the following statement following appearance in federal court Friday morning.
All citizens of this earth should be free to worship without fear of violence. As Americans, we must not let fear drive us away from our values and toward hateful and divisive acts against others. The core mission of the Department of Justice involves the safety of every person and their protection against racially, religiously and ethnically motivated violence and intimidation. We stand ready to prosecute individuals when rhetoric crosses the line to threats of violence or – as charged here – actual violence. I thank the FBI, ATF, Connecticut State Police and Meriden Police Department for their excellent work in this important investigation.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia Ferreck echoed the importance of the arrest.
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. 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.”
According to U.S. Attorney Daly’s office, the charge of intentionally damaging religious property through use of a dangerous weapon carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Hakey’s detention hearing is set for Monday, December 21st.
Mohammed Qureshi, the President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said his congregation was surprised to learn the attacker lives right next door to the mosque. Qureshi’s message to Hakey is that Islam is peaceful, and he hopes people will stop judging the religion based upon extremists.
“I think it’s our job to reach out to as many fellow citizens as we can to tell them that the terrorists have hijacked our religion. We are trying to take that religion back from the terrorist,” said Qureshi.