Advocates: Man accused in attack at mosque attended by Orlando shooter used anti-Muslim hate speech
A 25-year-old man has been arrested in connection to a beating of a Muslim man outside the Florida mosque attended by Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, the Palm Beach Post reports.
Taylor Anthony Mazzanti was booked by St. Lucie sheriff’s deputies on felony battery charges and is being held in lieu of $3,750 bond. Meantime the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization plans to file complaints with the state and federal governments, saying Mazzanti made racially hateful comments before attacking the man outside the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce and knocking out a tooth early Saturday.
Mazzanti allegedly said, “You Muslims need to get back to your country,” according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The Times Union reports that police received a call at 4:11 a.m. by a caller who said someone was trying to break into a vehicle. When they arrived, they found the man bleeding from the mouth. He was taken to a nearby hospital, treated and released. St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara told the Times Union the attacker approached the victim and asked him what he was doing before punching him in the face and head.
Mazzanti was stopped by police a short time later and identified by the victim.
“Interviews by the deputies and supervisors on scene and a written witness statement completed by the victim do not indicate any racially-motivated comments were made by the suspect prior to, during or after the incident,” Mascara told the paper. “However, we are further investigating the incident and detectives will be interviewing the suspect, victim and (an) apparent witness that has now been identified by the Council of Islamic-American Relations.”
CAIR said it had asked the local sheriff’s office for security following the Orlando attacks at a gay nightclub, which killed 49 and injured 53, in anticipation of anti-Muslim violence.
“This should not have happened. For over two weeks, we have been emphasizing that the community from the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce needs to be offered security from the sheriff’s office,” Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, CAIR-Florida communications director, told the Post. “Unfortunately, our requests were repeatedly ignored.”
The sheriff’s office told the Post they don’t have the manpower to provide security specific to the mosque but added they reached out to discuss needs in light of the Saturday morning attack. The CAIR spokesman told the Post they had not received the message.
“Muslims are part of the community just like everyone else,” Ruiz told the Post in a Saturday morning statement. “It is his duty and responsibility to ensure the safety of all his citizens.”