Police have arrested a man they suspect set fire to a Houston mosque that he loyally attended for five years. A spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed that Gary Nathaniel Moore, 37, was arrested early Wednesday morning for allegedly starting a fire in the mosque on Christmas Day.
Moore told police that he had loyally attended the mosque for five years, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Surveillance footage from neighboring businesses caught Moore on video quickly walking away from the mosque just moments before smoke appeared. After searching his home, police found a backpack and clothing that matched what he wore in the footage the day the fire was started. They also found a charcoal lighter fluid bottle that matched one found at the scene of the crime.
Initial reports of the fire hinted at underlying Islamaphobia as a motivator behind the arson and the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked police to investigate the fire-starter’s intentions.
Despite the arson apparently being the work of a man who claims to be a devout Muslim, Salon ran a story about the arrest with a headline that hinted at the action being a part of “escalating anti-Muslim violence,” but that story appears to have been taken down.
This story will be updated as it develops.