A 51-year-old man was charged with shooting at a mosque he lives near in north suburban Morton Grove, according to authorities.
Police confiscated a “high-velocity air rifle” from the home of David Conrad, who lives just east of the mosque. He was charged with three counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm and one count of criminal damage to property, all felonies. He’s scheduled for a bond hearing on Monday.
Members of the Morton Grove mosque said someone took several shots with an air rifle Friday night at the building’s outer wall. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, two air rifle shots were fired at the outer brick wall of the Muslim Education Center mosque, 8613 Menard Ave., damaging it.
A guard was working security at the center, where services were underway for Ramadan, when he heard a projectile hit the outside wall of the building at 9:20 p.m., said Morton Grove police Chief Mark Erickson.
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“He was walking around outside and he heard this bang and he notified the police,” Erickson said.
No one was hurt and no one inside the center was near a window when the pellet-gun shooting happened, said the chief. It’s not the first time the mosque has been damaged but other incidents went unreported, according to a release from Morton Grove police early Sunday morning.
When officers got there, the guard told police that windows at the center have been damaged in the past, but “a number of them” were never reported to authorities.
“Due to the sensitive nature of the incident and with the previous criminal damage there, we contacted the Cook County state’s attorney’s office,” the chief said.
“It’s important to know that no one was injured,” he said. The projectiles inside the pellet gun are different from BBs. “They are larger pellets and not round, they are oblong,” he said.
“We have a safe community here and we’ll ensure that a complete and thorough investigation will continue until this matter is resolved,” Erickson said.
“This is obviously an alarming situation that all parties are taking very seriously,’’ said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab in the statement.
According to Rehab, the projectiles reportedly came within inches of the head of the security guard on duty.
Rehab said he toured the mosque site Saturday with Muslim community leaders and that an investigation is being done by local law enforcement officials.
“We have full trust in the professionals handling this investigation. They are doing everything in their power to keep communities safe and ensure that justice is served,” said Rehab.
The FBI is not investigating the incident, spokeswoman Joan Hyde said in an emailed statement. “The matter is being handled by the locals,” Hyde said in the statement.
The Muslim Education Center is a suburban branch of the Muslim Community Center, which is the oldest Muslim center in the state, the statement said.