Arrest Made in Reno Mosque Assault
Sparks police arrested a 15-year-old Reno resident Tuesday in the brutal attack of two Reno Muslims as they stood outside the Northern Nevada Muslim Community Center last week, NBC affiliate KRNV reported.
David Nollette has reportedly been booked at the Washoe County Jail on a $220,000 bond. A police spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.
Nollete faces numerous charges, including two counts of attempted murder, two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon, and two counts of conspiracy. Police say he has been charged as an adult.
Authorities say they are searching for the second suspect, identified as 17-year old Scott Cannady, who may have left the Reno area with his mother.
Police say they believe the motive was not racially motivated, but an attempt to rob the two victims.
However, the Associated Press reported Monday that neither of the suspects said a word before the attack.
Two Sparks police detectives went Sunday to California to investigate whether the attack is related to two earlier attacks at a Jewish synagogue in Reno, police told AP.
In December, five skinheads who admitted to a November 1999 attempted fire-bombing of Temple Emanu-el were sentenced to up to 15 years in prison, reported the news service. In January, as similar attack happened at the same synagogue.
Meanwhile family and friends of one victim, Dr. Eltag Mirgani, say he remains in critical but stable condition at the Washoe Medical Center in Reno.
"This has been a tremendous help for us," said one who did not identify himself.
The attack happened shortly after evening prayers Friday by two assailants carrying a baseball bat. The second victim, 46-year-old Mohammed Sanah, suffered a broken arm.
A member from a nearby church was able to stop the attack and scare the assailants away.
Mosque representatives initially felt it was hate-crime motivated because of two phone threats prior to the attack. The caller, who allegedly said the mosque teaches "filth," was picked up for questioning by the police but later released without charge.
Some believe the recent negative attention given to Muslims in the media could have triggered the attack.
"We tend to see this type of attack whenever there is an issue or event that leads to stereotyping of Islam and Muslims," said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR's Los Angeles office.
Ayloush maintains that recent tensions in the Middle East and the controversy over actions of the Taliban in Afghanistan could motivate those who already harbor prejudices against Muslims.
This is just the latest incident in a series of attacks on the North American Muslim community. Earlier this year vandals attacked a Winnipeg, Canada mosque, smearing the front of the mosque with animal feces, eggs and white paint. Garbage was also thrown in the area of the mosque. The vandalism in Winnipeg followed a suspicious fire gutted the lobby of a British Columbia mosque in November of last year. Police told the CBC that they are following up witness reports of a van speeding away from the scene just before an explosion was heard. Attacks on other mosques and Islamic centers have occurred across North America.
Just recently, vandals targeted the Islamic Center of Southern California. In June of last year, a gunman attacked a Memphis, Tenn., Islamic center as worshipers gathered for morning prayers. In May of 1999, a would-be terrorist was arrested after fleeing from the area of a mosque near Denver, Colo. The suspect's car was found to contain loaded weapons and bomb-making materials.
As early as 1994, a nearly completed mosque in Yuba City, Calif., burned to the ground in what was ruled an arson attack. In 1995, arson destroyed a Springfield, Ill., Islamic center. And in 1996, a suspect was charged for involvement in an arson attack on a Greenville, S.C., mosque. Acts of mosque vandalism have occurred in Michigan, Indiana, New Jersey, Colorado, Illinois, and Georgia. In 1999, an arson attack severely damaged a Minneapolis, Minn., mosque.
The Washington office for the Council on American Islamic Relations is asking other Muslim communities to increase security measures for Islamic houses of worship.
Topics: Conflicts And War, Crime And Justice, Terrorism