Police arrest man in Fort Pierce, Fla., mosque arson, hate crime

Joseph Schreiber, 32, could receive up to 30 years imprisonment on arson and hate crime charges if convicted.
By Ed Adamczyk  |  Sept. 15, 2016 at 7:11 AM
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FORT PIERCE , Fla., Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Police said they arrested a suspect in the arson of a Port St. Lucie, Fla., mosque linked to the shooter at the Pulse nightclub attack.

Joseph Schreiber, 32, of Fort Pierce was arrested after several tips to police identifying him as responsible for setting a fire late Sunday at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce. He was charged with arson, a first-degree felony, as well as a hate crime, police said Wednesday; if convicted he could be imprisoned for a minimum 30-year sentence.

Federal charges may also be filed against Schreiber, FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael D'Alonzo said.

Surveillance video from the mosque shows a man arriving by motorcycle and carrying papers and a bottle of liquid, and leaving after a flash precedes a fire at the front of the building. Fire fighters took five hours to extinguish the fire. No one was injured.

The fire began late Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center; the mosque had been attended by Omar Mateen, gunman in a June shooting attack on an Orlando night club in which 49 people died.

"We made a plea for the community to help in this investigation, and the community stepped forward and provided that. We have received more than one tip that identified Mr. Schreiber." St. Lucie County Sheriff's Maj. David Thompson said Wednesday. "A search warrant was obtained and a search of Schreiber's house was conducted that revealed Schreiber owns a motorcycle consistent with the surveillance video footage. Other evidence collected also linked Schreiber to the arson."

Thompson added that Schreiber's social media account included a number of anti-Islamic comments. Schreiber has a criminal record which includes charges of petty theft, resisting arrest and trespassing, Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show. He served 18 months in state prison for resisting arrest and was released in August 2014.

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