FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — A 35-year-old man was being held Tuesday in connection with vandalism at a Colorado mosque, which left broken glass inside the building and led to an outpouring of support for Muslims in the hometown of Colorado State University. The suspect also left a Bible.
The suspect’s father, Michael Giaquinto, told the Coloradoan that his son was an Army medic who served in Iraq and Korea and moved to the city about 60 miles north of Denver last year.
“No matter what we find out happened, my son is a good man,” he told the newspaper. “He served his country well. Even if he was involved, and I’m not saying he was, it would just indicate that he was in a kind of a bad place.”
Giaquinto was arrested Monday on suspicion of a bias-motivated crime, criminal mischief and trespassing. Police haven’t said what led them to him.
The vandalism prompted the center to cancel religious classes for children that morning, but it has also led to an outpouring of support. The Coloradoan reports that congregants from Plymouth Congregational Church visited after their morning service, and later about 1,000 people gathered at the mosque for a rally of support organized by a rabbi Sunday evening.
Many have also been making donations online to pay for repairs and improved security.
Police Chief John Hutto, who attended the support rally, said he hoped the arrest sends a message that the community will not tolerate acts of hatred.
“While the building can be repaired, this incident caused deeper hurt that won’t just go away. I urge all of our citizens to continue showing the kind of support and acceptance demonstrated at the Islamic Center rally on Sunday night,” he said in a statement.
The vandalism came about a month after someone threw a rock through a window at a mosque in the Denver area. The incident at the Colorado Muslim Society was also captured on surveillance video, but no one has been arrested and invesigators say they have exhausted their leads.