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Man Indicted For Hate Crime For Texas Mosque Fire

During a court hearing in March on an unrelated charge, prosecutors alleged Perez believed the mosque’s worshippers were “terrorists.”

 

Abe Martinez. the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, announces the indictment.

A man has been indicted on a hate crime charge for a January fire that destroyed a Texas mosque.

A grand jury Thursday indicted Marq Vincent Perez, who federal prosecutors say started a Jan. 28 fire that destroyed the Islamic center in his hometown of Victoria, located 125 miles southwest of Houston.

Perez faces three counts: hate crime-damage to a religious property, use of a fire to commit a federal felony and possession of an unregistered destructive device.

Abe Martinez, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, announced the charges at a press conference on Thursday afternoon in Victoria.

"This indictment should send notice to violators that such crimes will not be tolerated,” Martinez said. “That they will be thoroughly investigated and they will be aggressively prosecuted."

During a court hearing in March on an unrelated charge, prosecutors alleged Perez believed the mosque’s worshippers were terrorists and may have been looking for other mosques to target.

Shahid Hashmi, President of Victoria's Islamic Center, praised the work of investigators.

"We were waiting for this moment,”Hashmi said. “And the authorities have done a wonderful job in gathering all the information and finally the indictment is there."

Perez’s attorney didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment. He was already being held without bond on the unrelated charge.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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