FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Indiana authorities assist in the arrest of a man who allegedly torched an Islamic Center.
Indiana State Police along with the FBI and other agencies arrested 52-year-old Randy Linn of Dekalb County Tuesday afternoon. Law enforcement made the arrest in the 7600 block of Opportunity Drive in Fort Wayne at Shambaugh and Son.
The fire occurred Sunday at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg Township.
According to Mava Heffler with EMCOR, Linn was an employee of Havel at the time of the incident.
Shambaugh and Son Vice President Bill Meyer released a statement following Linn’s arrest:
“Any attempt by anyone to set fire to or otherwise damage a mosque or any other place of worship is reprehensible and is not in keeping with the Company's values. This is a developing story and we unfortunately don't know any more than we read and hear in the press and media.”
Linn is charged with two counts of arson, aggravated battery and carrying a concealed weapon. Linn can be seen on mosque surveillance footage entering the mosque Sunday evening, shortly before the fire started in a second floor prayer room. Mahjabeen Islam, MD, Islamic Center president, says the Muslim community of Toledo is in shock over the attack on their prayer center.
"When something like this actually happens, you really go into a sense of shock and disbelief and denial. So, the community is sort of trying to gather itself back together, and we are keeping the community well-informed," says Islam.
The majority of the damage is water and smoke related. Islam says they are quickly picking up the pieces.
"When initially it happened, the power had been shut down and the gas had been shut down. So now, because there was extensive water damage because the sprinkler system deployed, the water is pretty much out of there."
In St. Joe, many of Linn’s neighbors say they are “shocked” and “surprised” by Linn’s arrest and the accusations against him. One neighbor, who asked not to be on camera, said the Linns are “not religious, not church going” people. Another neighbor, Carey Crago, who says he has known Linn for about 20 years, says Linn was outspoken about political matters but not about races or religions.
"He spoke his mind, you know, about his dislike for the politics, which we all do, but as far as, like I said, I never heard him speak against any race or religion."
Like other St. Joe residents, Crago said he, too, was shocked by Wednesday’s news. When asked what he would say to Linn if given the opportunity to speak with him, Crago said he would ask Linn to tell him the allegations are not true.
“I’d like to be able to talk to Randy. I would like to do that because him and I are close enough that I could have a discussion with him and a conversation. But all I could say to him is, ‘Just tell me it ain’t true, Randy.’ That’s the best I could do,” says Crago.
Imam Farooq Abo Elzahab says The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo will continue to preach love.
“We keep working on what we are doing. We keep doing what we are doing to reach out to the community to send a message of love and cohesiveness to our one community under God. And the mosque will stand again and it will be full of activities, happiness and the love again.”
Linn was being held in the Allen County Jail but waived extradition and was returned to Ohio Wednesday.
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