Seven people were inside the mosque during the attack but managed to put out the fire, and no one was injured.
Rabat – An individual used an accelerant to set fire to a mosque at 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning, March 24, in Escondido, southern California.
The arsonist also left behind offensive graffiti on the wall referencing the terror attack on two New Zealand mosques on Friday, March 15.
Police did not reveal the content of the graffiti, but commented that the “graffiti left behind by the suspect made reference to the shooting incident in New Zealand.”
According to the Escondido Police Department, seven people were inside the mosque at the time of the blaze, but none of them were injured. The incident happened more than two hours before the early morning fajr prayer.
The seven in the mosque used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire before police and firemen arrived. The fire only slightly damaged the exterior facade of the mosque.
Escondido police Lieutenant Chris Lick said that the suspect used an accelerant to set the fire.
Police have not identified any suspects and are investigating the incident as arson and hate crime. The police are getting assistance from fire investigators, a regional bomb/arson task force, and agents with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
Since the New Zealand attack, police have increased surveillance in Escondido by deploying patrol vehicles at every corner in order to help the Muslim community feel safe.
Police in Escondido encouraged locals to report any suspicious activity near mosques and urged the Muslim community to stay vigilant and watchful at their prayer centers.