TOLEDO -- Criminal hate-crimes charges were filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo against an Indiana man stemming from the arson this week of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, law enforcement officials announced Friday.
Randolph Linn, 52, of St. Joe, Indiana, was charged with (1) intentionally defacing, damaging and destroying religious real property because of the religious character of that property and (2) using fire and explosives to commit a felony.
"The Department of Justice will aggressively prosecute persons who attack, deface or damage houses of worship because of racial or religious animus," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
The Perrysburg Township Fire Department was notified at about 4:58 p.m. on Sept. 30 of a fire at the Islamic Center.
Officials and officers discovered a red plastic gas can in the middle of the Islamic Center's prayer room and the carpet underneath had been burned.
The fire was extinguished by a sprinkler system and there was significant damage to the prayer room and other areas of the Islamic Center.
Officials and officers determined the fire had been intentionally set, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court.
Security cameras at the Islamic Center captured images of a red, SUV-type vehicle in the parking lot at approximately 4:11 p.m.
They also captured images of an older man, dressed in blue jeans and camouflage, who approached the front door of the Islamic Center, according to the affidavit.
Security cameras also captured images of the man walking around the inside of the Islamic Center with what appeared to be a firearm and a gas can and then leaving the Islamic Center at approximately 4:54 p.m., according to the affidavit.
Law enforcement officials released still photos of the surveillance video to the media on Oct. 1. On Oct. 2, a woman contacted law enforcement and identified the man in the photos as Randolph Linn.
The woman stated that she knew Linn and that he had recently made anti-Muslim comments. Specifically, she stated that Linn had complained about the international Muslim community's reaction to the anti-Muslim video on Youtube; recent attacks on United States' embassies and the deaths of U.S. military personnel in the Middle East.
She further stated that Linn complained that Muslims in this country get a "free pass," according to the affidavit.
The woman recognized the sweatshirt as one Linn owned and stated that the three months earlier, Linn had purchased a red, SUV-type vehicle that matched the vehicle in the surveillance footage at the Islamic Center, according to the affidavit.
Linn was arrested at his place of employment on Oct. 2. Linn's vehicle, a red Chevy Sonic, was in the parking lot, according to the affidavit.
Linn stated that he had three firearms in his parked vehicle, according to the affidavit. While being booked and after being read his Miranda rights, Linn stated: "(expletive) the Muslims," according to the affidavit.
"We appreciate the cooperation of state, local and federal law enforcement in their efforts to ensure that no one in this country is hindered in their ability to worship freely in the manner of their choosing."
"As this Department and this community have repeatedly said, we will have zero tolerance for such violent acts of intolerance," said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
"Religious freedom is at the core of our country, and we will continue to aggressively prosecute such hate crimes whenever and wherever the evidence warrants. Local, state and federal law enforcement are to be commended for speed with which they identified and arrested the suspect."
Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Cleveland office, said: "Today's charges should send a clear message to anyone who chooses to use fire and hate to destroy a place of worship. The FBI commends the collaboration between the local and federal agencies in their efforts to bring Randolph Linn swiftly to justice."
This is an ongoing investigation and this case is being investigated by the Perrysburg Township Police Department, the State of Ohio Fire Marshal, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.