Thursday, June 6, 2013
Mosque paintball incident not the first of its kind in McKinney
While officials have not yet deemed it a hate crime, similar incidents have been ongoing since January.
MCKINNEY What could have been a childish prank has now gained steam as a possible hate crime as worshipers at the McKinney Islamic Association on Eldorado Parkway recall the weekend's paintballing incident.
As news reports swirled around the paintballing of an Islamic mosque in McKinney, the McKinney Police Department began an investigation of the incident. Initial reports stated that nearly two dozen paintballs hit the mosque. The incident took place sometime in the overnight hours of Saturday night into Sunday morning.
The Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, called on local, state, and national law enforcement authorities to investigate the incident as a possible hate crime.
However, McKinney PD spokesperson Sgt. Chad Barker said the department was investigating two criminal mischief cases regarding the incident.
"One is for the building that was hit with paintballs, and the other is for the car," he said Monday. "Investigators are actively working these cases."
But worshipers have been on high alert, said Mashiur Rahman, board member and McKinney Islamic associate.
Rahman said that the night of the incident, a senior member was driving in near the Eldorado County Club when, as he was turning, he heard the sound of something hitting his vehicle. When he exited his vehicle, Rahman said, he saw that a paintball had splattered across the rear of his vehicle.
"He has lived in McKinney for 40 or 45 years," Rahman said. "When he found the paintball on the back of his car, he was really concerned and called us and said we needed to get everyone together.
"We are debating whether or not someone was tailing him. We have other incidents that happened before that we didn't know what to do. We had an incident a few weeks before when our power was cut off from the back of the building. Someone had turned off the switch from the outside."
There have been incidents taking place around the mosque since January, he said.
"We have heard that there have been kids there in the parking lot being loud," he said. "We didn't think much about it. We are very concerned now. We will beef up our security cameras, call the cops and the Dallas chapter of CAIR."
Although mosque members have been reporting other incidents, Barker said the only other calls to the location were in reference to juveniles driving through the mosque parking lot.
"There is a Sonic that kids hang out at in the evenings and weekends," he said. "The Sonic parking lot almost touches the shopping center and the mosque. The weather has been nicer so they are out and about more this time of year."
Some of the surrounding businesses have requested extra police presence due to teenagers and young adults causing a disturbance to their customers.
"We are concerned," Rahman said. "It may not be a hate crime; it may not be anything at all. But we are concerned and we want to make sure this will not translate into bigger issues."
Police said they have taken steps to increase enforcement in the area and are still investigating the incident.
"Investigators are still searching for suspects," Barker said. "However, patrol officers did make several contacts in the parking lot area [Tuesday] night near the mosque of people loitering about the area. The officers ultimately issued criminal trespass warnings. These warnings are a written notice that the person could be arrested for trespassing if they return to that location."
CAIR recently began distributing new safety and security guidelines to mosques and other Islamic institutions nationwide and released a statement regarding the incident.
"If a bias motive is proven in this case, the perpetrators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, including appropriate hate crime enhancements," stated Amina Rab, CAIR-DFW president, in a release. "Local, state and national leaders should acknowledge the growing Islamophobia in our nation that can lead to such attacks."
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