Man Charged in Mosque Fire Says He Worshipped There

Feds say it no longer looks like a hate crime
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 31, 2015 2:41 AM CST
Man Charged in Mosque Fire Says He Worshipped There
Gary Nathaniel Moore is being held on $100,000 bond.   (Police handout via New York Daily News)

A man who was charged with arson in a Christmas Day fire at a Houston mosque told an investigator he worshipped there, federal authorities say. Gary Nathaniel Moore, 37, of Houston, was arrested Wednesday morning, an ATF special agent says. She adds that officials don't know a motive yet but there's no evidence it was a hate crime. A court document says that the investigation into the fire, which caused major damage to the building, found five different points of origin and a container of charcoal lighter. According to the court document, Moore said he'd been a member of the mosque for about five years and came there to pray five times a day.

Moore told the fire investigator that he believed he was the last person to leave the mosque at about 2pm and didn't smell or see smoke. He said another mosque member later called to tell him about the fire and he returned. The court document states that Moore was identified from surveillance video quickly walking away from the mosque at about 2:39pm and that smoke could be seen coming from the mosque about three minutes later. The president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston tells the Houston Chronicle that he doesn't recognize Moore from the mosque. "We are just looking into it ourselves," he says. "We are really very surprised and saddened by this whole thing." (More Houston stories.)

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