Hate Crimes Charges Filed Against Indiana Man for Religiously Motivated Attack on the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 05, 2012|
CLEVELAND—Criminal hate crimes charges were filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo against an Indiana man stemming from the arson this week of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, law enforcement officials announced today.
Randolph Linn, 52, of St. Joe, Indiana, was charged with intentionally defacing, damaging, and destroying religious real property because of the religious character of that property and with using fire and explosives to commit a felony.
“The Department of Justice will aggressively prosecute persons who attack, deface, or damage houses of worship because of racial or religious animus,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We appreciate the cooperation of state, local, and federal law enforcement in their efforts to ensure that no one in this country is hindered in their ability to worship freely in the manner of their choosing.”
“As this department and this community have repeatedly said, we will have zero tolerance for such violent acts of intolerance,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “Religious freedom is at the core of our country, and we will continue to aggressively prosecute such hate crimes whenever and wherever the evidence warrants. Local, state, and federal law enforcement are to be commended for speed with which they identified and arrested the suspect.”
“The case has been a cooperative effort, with state and local law enforcement initiating the investigation and federal agents subsequently stepping in to assist,” said Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson. “It is time to take the next right step and seek federal prosecution, with the active participation of the same state and local investigators. Additionally, an assistant prosecutor from this office will be appointed as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney.”
Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Office, said, “Today’s charges should send a clear message to anyone who chooses to use fire and hate to destroy a place of worship. The FBI commends the collaboration between the local and federal agencies in their efforts to bring Randolph Linn swiftly to justice.”
“This senseless act of arson against a house of worship is incomprehensible and will not be tolerated, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives will actively pursue and bring those responsible to justice,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Robin Shoemaker, Columbus Field Division. “The individual(s) responsible for this act will be held accountable. ATF will continue to work in collaboration with our federal and local counterparts to ensure that justice is served.”
The Perrysburg Township, Ohio, Fire Department was notified at about 4:58 p.m. on September 30 of a fire at the Islamic Center. Officials and officers discovered a red plastic gas can in the middle of the Islamic Center’s prayer room, and the carpet underneath had been burned. The fire was extinguished by a sprinkler system, and there was significant damage to the prayer room and other areas of the Islamic Center. Officials and officers determined the fire had been intentionally set, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court.
Security cameras at the Islamic Center captured images of a red, SUV-type vehicle in the parking lot at approximately 4:11 p.m. They also captured images of an older man, dressed in blue jeans and camouflage, who approached the front door of the Islamic Center, according to the affidavit.
Security cameras also captured images of the man walking around the inside of the Islamic Center with what appeared to be a firearm and a gas can and then leaving the Islamic Center at approximately 4:54 p.m., according to the affidavit.
Law enforcement officials released still photos of the surveillance video to the media on October 1.
On October 2, a woman contacted law enforcement and identified the man in the photos as Randolph Linn. The woman stated that she knew Linn and that he had recently made anti-Muslim comments. Specifically, she stated that Linn had complained about the international Muslim community’s reaction to an anti-Muslim video on YouTube; recent attacks on United States’ Embassies; and the deaths of U.S. military personnel in the Middle East. She further stated that Linn complained that Muslims in this country get a “free pass,” according to the affidavit.
The woman recognized the sweatshirt as one Linn owned and stated that the three months earlier, Linn had purchased a red, SUV-type vehicle that matched the vehicle in the surveillance footage at the Islamic Center, according to the affidavit.
Linn was arrested at his place of employment on October 2. Linn’s vehicle, a red Chevy Sonic, was in the parking lot, according to the affidavit.
Linn stated that he had three firearms in his parked vehicle, according to the affidavit.
While being booked and after being read his Miranda rights, Linn stated, “[expletive] those Muslims,” according to the affidavit.
This is an ongoing investigation and this case is being investigated by the Perrysburg Township Police Department, the state of Ohio Fire Marshal, ATF, and the FBI.