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Man arrested over Missouri Islamic centre fire

22nd May 2020

Nadine Osman

A man with a history of vandalizing mosques was arrested on April 27 for a fire that badly damaged an Islamic centre in Missouri, US. Nicholas Proffitt was arrested for the fire at the Islamic Centre of Cape Girardeau which broke out on the first day of Ramadan.

The 42-year-old is charged in a warrant with first-degree arson, burglary and felony property damage. He was convicted and served time for two felony property damage counts in 2009 for vandalizing the same mosque.

The charges are enhanced because Proffitt was motivated by “the religion of the people who worship at the Islamic Centre,” police said. The FBI which investigated the fire also offered $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone connected to the fire.

Twelve to 15 people were evacuated and escaped injury. Fire Chief Travis Hollis said the damage to the building was extensive with “significant damage” to the front entrance and on the second floor.According to Norman Baker, a Cape Girardeau Fire Department battalion chief, a man was captured on a security camera engaging in “suspicious activity” shortly before the fire began at about 5 am.

“[Missouri Division of Fire Safety] is part of a joint local-state-federal probe of this suspicious fire in Cape Girardeau. In Missouri, we won’t tolerate any attack on any house of worship. This was a cowardly act,” said Missouri Governor Mike Parson.

According to Sergeant Joey Hann with the Cape Girardeau Police Department, a man had made threats against the centre about two years ago, prompting the department to assign an officer outside.

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