Islamic Center Shooting Thwarted
(NBC NEWS) A 69-year-old Jacksonville, Florida man has been arrested after allegedly planning a mass shooting at the Northeast Florida Islamic Center.
Bernandino Bolatete, 69, planned to climb the minaret, or tower, at the Islamic Center and start shooting, according to court documents.
“I hope and pray to God nobody tries to attempt anything like that, but it’s very well secured,” Ashraf Shaikh, chairman of the board of trustees for the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, said of the minaret.
While Shaikh couldn’t give specifics about security protocol, he said access to the minaret was already restricted long before Bolatete’s arrest.
Bolatete’s family went to the Federal Courthouse Tuesday afternoon to show their support. His brother, Pedro, described Bernandino as a loving, family man with four children in the Philippines.
“There’s an ongoing war in the Philippines down south with Muslim extremists,” Pedro Bolatete said. “If he did mention about Muslims he thought it was probably in the Philippines still, thinking about those Muslim extremists down south.”