Nashville Police arrest alleged mosque vandal

6:51 PM, Feb 11, 2013   |    comments
  • Al-Farooq mosque members work on boarding up a broken window after the mosque was vandalized overnight Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 in Nashville, TN. / Sanford Myers / The Tennessean
  • Kyler A. Wilson
    
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Police said Monday afternoon that 27-year-old Kyler A. Wilson was behind the morning's damage at the Al-Farooq mosque.

Wilson is charged with burglary and felony vandalism in connection with the incident.

Officers were called to the Islamic Center early Monday after a cab driver familiar with the facility saw an open door on a parked vehicle with a man wearing only boxer shorts inside, according to a news release. The man fled the scene on foot.

Inside, items, including tables, a water cooler, a vending machine and a microwave, were overturned. Windows were also broken. The windshields of two hearses parked outside were also damaged, the release said.

Police found Wilson sleeping in a vehicle on Second Avenue South wearing only boxer shorts, the release said.

Wilson told detectives that he drank heavily last night and does not remember anything from Monday morning. He also said he has no animosity toward any religion or group.

"The investigation at present, which is being conducted by the South Precinct and the Specialized Investigations Division, strongly suggests that the vandalism at the Islamic Center was committed by one person and was not a planned crime," Chief Steve Anderson said in a statement.

The FBI is also involved in the investigation to determine whether any federal law was violated.

Reported earlier

Windows were shattered, rooms were ransacked and windshields were bashed at a Nashville mosque overnight, marking the second time in three years that vandalism had shaken those who worship there.

The vandalism at Al-Farooq mosque on 4th Avenue South was reported there at about 3 a.m. this morning, a dispatcher said. Books were among the property destroyed inside.

The mosque had also been vandalized in 2010, when someone spray painted "Muslims Go Home" on the building.

"These acts of violence should not be happening to any places of worship," said
Remziya Suleyman, adding, "Houses of worship ... are sacred homes."

Suleyman helms the American Center for Outreach, which was created to "inform, educate and empower Muslims to become engaged in society by providing the assistance they need to become productive citizens."

Congregants had been rattled by the repeated vandalism, she said.

"They are in kind of disbelief that this is happening again," she said. "This is not something they see every day, and they understand this doesn't represent Tennesseans and Nashvillians as a whole."

Suleyman said she had been at the mosque throughout the morning, and that people from a variety of backgrounds had stopped by to voice their support.

"We are really grateful for the really quick response of law enforcement," she said, noting that Nashville Police and the FBI were investigating. "They have been absolutely amazing."

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