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.