A 23-year-old California man is facing five felony charges after a fire broke out at the Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley mosque Friday afternoon, some 15 minutes before afternoon prayers. Carl Dial was charged Friday evening with commission of a hate crime, arson, maliciously setting a fire, and second-degree burglary, reports the Los Angeles Times, in the latest attack on a mosque since the San Bernardino shooting, which occurred 75 miles away. "We were just here trying to be free and practice our religion, just like everybody else," says a worshipper, who credited "the will of God" for more people not being inside when the blaze broke out. Witnesses reported hearing an explosion beforehand; no cause has yet been determined.
Speaking with NBC News, Dial's father, John Dial, characterized him as something of a loner "caught up in social media ... (which) has produced people like my son, without person-to-person contact." The elder Dial appeared unsympathetic, saying that while mental health issues may have played a role, "We have no plans to bail him out. He's an adult... we said to him, I hope you like reading books, because you're in it for the long haul. He's a man." Carl Dial's bail has been set at $150,000, notes NBC. "If in fact it was done with the mosque as a target ... it's reprehensible, and the people who perpetrated that act should be treated the way we would any other terrorist," the Riverside County supervisor tells the Times. (Read more mosque stories.)