On Christmas Day, a 37-year-old Houston man set mosque on fire, telling investigators afterwards that he was a regular worshiper. The motives behind the arson are still unclear, but the man is now awaiting trial in detention with a $100,000 bond.
Gary Nathaniel Moore was taken into custody Dec. 30, and the bond was set early this morning. During the investigation, the man said that he had been an attendee of the place since 2010. He also added that he used the mosque five times per day every day to pray.
He admitted that he was at the mosque on Christmas Day, but after praying he returned home after noon. He told police that he was the last faithful to leave the place, and he saw no signs of fire. When asked why he returned, he explained that a friend had informed him about the blaze.
On the other hand, the organization which operates the building said that its members didn’t know Moore. The group is now conducting a separate investigation into the matter. Its leader said the community was both surprised and upset about the incident.
Investigators learned that Moore was around when the fire started from surveillance cameras from nearby stores. Shortly after analyzing the recordings, police obtained a search warrant for the man’s home. There, they found the clothing and backpack that the man wore in the footage, along with inflammable substances identical to those discovered inside the building.
About 30 investigators and arson specialists rushed to get to the bottom of the whole thing. They learned that the fire was started from five locations. They also found a lighter fluid bottle.
The suspect was arrested at his home around 1:30 a.m., Dec. 30. He now faces charges of first degree arson, but prosecution couldn’t provide a motive. Robert Elder, one of the special agents that investigated the case, said the department saw arson a violent crime since it is not directed only towards a building, but towards entire communities.
The arson is currently investigated by the district attorney’s office. Investigators need to learn more details about the case such as the substance used to set the building ablaze.
Houston’s mayor praised police and other investigators for their quick response. The mayor was especially pleased by the smooth collaboration between police, federal investigators, and arson specialists from the local fire department. She also thanked the Muslim community and worshipers at the mosque for their support.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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