Robert Martinez, Public Information Officer for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for the Coachella Valley, told Breitbart News on Sunday that the investigation into the firebombing of the Islamic Center of Palm Springs (Masjed an Noor) is “ongoing” and reiterated that no new information has been discovered about what police are now labeling as a “possible hate crime.”
Carl James Dial Jr., 23, was booked into the Riverside County Jail on Friday and faces felony charges for two arson charges, second-degree burglary and hate crime on Friday for a “malicious[ly] set fire” which took place just after noon that same day.
Dial was placed under arrest shortly before 9 p.m. on Friday and booked into the jail at 1:46 a.m. Saturday.
The fire was reported at 12:11 p.m. on Friday after people attending the mosque described hearing a “loud boom” and seeing flames, Reymundo Nour, the mosque’s acting imam (who was not on the site at the time) told the Associated Press. He reportedly said the mosque had been “firebombed.” The flames were contained to the small building’s front lobby. No one was injured.
Authorities do not yet know how the fire was set.
It is unclear whether Dial had a prior arrest record, but a brief search on the Riverside Sheriff’s website did not indicate anything before Friday’s arrest. When Breitbart News questioned Officer Martinez about that possibility he said he did not know.
Breitbart News also attempted to reach out to the mosque for comment on Sunday but no one answered the phone, and the voice mailbox was full.
The mosque is located approximately 75 miles from San Bernardino, where last week’s terrorist shooting that left 14 people dead and 21 injured.
Investigative reports have surfaced indicating that the perpetrators, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, were likely radicalized prior to meeting and marrying in 2013.
The AP notes that some Muslims in Southern California and beyond have expressed fear over the potential for reprisals, while leaders of various faiths have called for tolerance.
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, Dr. Dany Doueiri, an associate professor at Cal State University San Bernardino who had Farook as a student at one point, said “You know, we are living with fear now in the Islamic centers. A lot of Muslims don’t go to the mosques now because they are scared for retaliation.”
At a vigil in Corona on Friday at the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco mosque–which terrorists Farook and Malik’s alleged accomplice Enrique Marquez had attended at one point–State Senators, local Mormon and Episcopal Church leaders, and a representative from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) addressed a large crowd but refused to use the word “terrorism” once over the course of the 90-minute long event.
According to Fox News, Malik will not receive a traditional Muslim burial, as no Muslim leader want anything to do with her. “No one wants to claim her and no one wants to do the funeral,” a well-placed source within the Muslim community told FoxNews.com. “They are all waiting for someone else to be the one to take care of this part of it.”