Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the person who overturned benches, broke windows and threw a Bible into a mosque near Colorado State University, a case they are investigating as a hate crime.
Police released two clips of surveillance video that captured the vandalism at the Islamic Center of Fort Collins before dawn Sunday. In one, a man wearing a hoodie, believed to be in his late teens or early 20s, is shown picking up a paving stone and walking away. In another clip, he kicks a door.
The center’s president, Tawfik Aboellail, said the man tried to break into the mosque about 4am Sunday, but he did not get inside.
The vandalism prompted the center to cancel religious classes for children that morning, but it has also led to an outpouring of support. The Coloradoan reports that congregants from Plymouth Congregational Church visited after their morning service, and later about 1,000 people gathered at the mosque for a rally of support organized by a rabbi Sunday evening.
Many have also been making donations online to pay for repairs and improved security.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations had urged police to investigate the case as a possible hate crime.
Police Chief John Hutto, who attended the support rally, said the incident has a “very real impact on our Muslim friends and neighbours.”
“The criminal act against their sacred space is unacceptable,” he said in a statement.
The vandalism comes about a month after someone threw a rock through a window at a mosque in the Denver area. The incident at the Colorado Muslim Society was also captured on surveillance video, but no one has been arrested. Investigators in the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office have exhausted their leads, spokeswoman Julie Brooks said Monday.