Florida man sentenced to 30 years in
prison for mosque fire
Send a link to a friend
[February 07, 2017]
By Zachary Fagenson
MIAMI (Reuters) - A Florida man pleaded no
contest and was sentenced on Monday to 30 years in prison for setting
fire last year to the mosque where Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen
once worshipped, court officials said.
Joseph Schreiber, 32, caused more than $100,000 in damage to the Islamic
Center of Fort Pierce, which he set ablaze on Sept. 11, 2016, the 15th
anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, authorities said.
The crime also coincided with the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha, or the
Feast of Sacrifice.
No one was hurt, but the fire forced the congregation to relocate prayer
services as it seeks a new home.
Schreiber told police after his arrest in September that his attack on
the mosque had nothing to do with Mateen, Assistant State Attorney Steve
Gosnell said in an interview on Monday.
A lawyer for Schreiber could not be immediately reached after Monday's
court hearing in St. Lucie County.
The mosque was close to the apartment Mateen shared with his wife before
he killed 49 people and wounded dozens more at a gay nightclub in
Orlando last June, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Mateen pledged allegiance to the head of the Islamic State militant
group during a 911 emergency call before being killed in a shootout with
police after a three-hour standoff at the Pulse nightclub. Investigators
do not believe he had assistance from outside organizations.
Schreiber told investigators he viewed the teachings of Islam as a
national security threat, Gosnell said. Police previously said
Schreiber's Facebook page included anti-Muslim rhetoric.
"He said he wasn't angry, he didn't do it with hatred," the prosecutor
[to top of second column]
Joseph Michael Schreiber, 32, of Florida is pictured in this undated
handout photo. St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office/Handout via
Schreiber faced up to life in prison given his prior criminal record
and the charge against him, arson evidencing prejudice, essentially
a hate crime in Florida, Gosnell said.
"It's horrible when anyone attacks a house of worship for whatever
purpose," the prosecutor said.
(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.