A man, who has been charged with setting fire to a mosque on December 25 told detectives that he is a religious person who prays five times each day, seven days a week. Gary Nathaniel Moore (37 years old) told investigators that he was a regular there, and he rushed to the mosque only after finding out it had been set ablaze. Moore was arrested on December 30 after prominent Muslims in the vicinity failed to recognize him.
According to court documents, Moore –who has been charged with arson– told detectives that he visited the mosque regularly for five long years. He claimed to have been the last person to leave the building on Christmas Day and said that he had not seen or smelt any smoke. He said that another member of the mosque called to inform him about the fire and that is when he rushed back to see what had happened.
Yet, M J Khan, President of Islamic Society of Greater Houston, told the media that he had not seen Moore before. He also said that Moore was present at the mosque on the day of the fire but he was definitely not a regular. He confirmed that Moore was not a part of his organization, which happens to run the mosque.
“We are really very surprised and saddened by this whole thing,” Khan said.
However, he clarified that Muslims in the neighborhood had no reason to be afraid, saying that the incident had brought the community closer.
Court documents mentioned that Moore had been seen on surveillance footage walking away quickly from the mosque around 2:30 pm; three minutes after which smoke was seen billowing out of the house of worship.
The fire, which seemed to have started at five points, caused great damage to the mosque, as it took 80 firefighters to bring under control. A container of charcoal lighter fluid was discovered after the fire was extinguished. Reportedly, it matched another one that was discovered at Moore’s home. Clothes recovered from his home also matched those of the suspect’s in the surveillance footage. While officials are yet to conclude a motive for the arson attack, they have ruled out hate crime as an option.
Moore, who has been charged with first-degree arson, has been held for a $100,000 bail.
Photo Credits: Chron - Houston Chronicle