(COACHELLA, Calif.) — A 23-year-old is in custody, accused of arson and committing a hate crime, in connection with a fire at a Southern California mosque that investigators believe was deliberately set, officials said.
Carl James Dial was arrested by Coachella police Friday night on five felony charges including arson, commission of a hate crime and second-degree burglary, according to arrest records. Federal official confirmed to ABC News Sunday his arrest was connected to the mosque incident.
Dial was being held at the Indio Jail, records show.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department announced earlier that a person of interest was located and detained pending a further investigation into the fire at the Islamic Society of Palm Springs in Coachella, California.
The fire was contained to the lobby, but there was damage from smoke throughout the house of worship, the Riverside County Fire Department said.
The FBI’s Los Angeles branch was investigating the fire, officials said.
The bureau investigates when houses of worship may have been targeted.
There were no reports of injuries, but the acting imam of the mosque said that because it is a family center, he is very worried.
“We are concerned,” Reymundo Nour said. “We’re concerned for ourselves, we’re concerned for our safety, our families, our children.”
He said he wanted to assure non-Muslims in the community that people who resort to violence do not represent the truth of the religion.
“We simply want them to understand that Islam, as much as they may not think so, but Islam is a peaceful way of life,” he said.
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