Authorities say a man has been arrested and charged with arson in a Christmas Day fire at a Houston mosque. He also told an investigator that he worshiped there.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Nicole Strong said Gary Nathaniel Moore, 37, of Houston was arrested Wednesday morning.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office charged Moore with one count of arson at a place of worship, a felony.
Strong said officials don’t know a motive, but added there’s no evidence that it was a hate crime.
Strong had said that the blaze at the mosque — which is operated with help from the Islamic Society of Greater Houston — had “multiple points of origin.”
The fire caused major damage to the interior of the mosque, but no injuries. Some smoke made it into the neighboring businesses.
The mosque is located in a strip shopping center in southwest Houston. It also houses about a dozen small businesses, including a café showing Bollywood films, a children’s health clinic, and the Savoy, a Pakistani restaurant that’s been there since the 1980s.
Other tenants say the small mosque has been there at least since the early 1990s.
Moore was being held in jail Wednesday on no bond. Court records didn’t list an attorney for him.
A court document says Moore told an investigator he hadn’t seen a fire before leaving the mosque.