Newly released video shows man setting fire to Thonotosassa mosque

Investigators released a surveillance video Monday which shows a man setting fire to a Thonotosassa mosque. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
Investigators released a surveillance video Monday which shows a man setting fire to a Thonotosassa mosque. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
Published May 15 2017

TAMPA — Investigators released a surveillance video Monday which shows a man setting fire to a Thonotosassa mosque.

The video clearly depicts the Feb. 24 arson, which damaged the Daarus Salaam mosque at 15830 Morris Bridge Road.

In the video, a man walked along a sidewalk toward the mosque, carrying a small container. He wore what appears to be an all-white painter's suit, black gloves, a white hard hat, and a white mask.

The man secured the rope to the container, then dragged the rope across the concrete before spraying it with a flammable liquid, according to Hillsborough County sheriff's officials. When the rope failed to ignite, he poured a trail of gasoline over it and lowered a flame.

Flames erupted along the sidewalk, but the container did not ignite, officials said. The man's moved out of the camera's view and ignited the container, which damaged mosque.

In the video, the man then walked off toward Morris Bridge Road.

The blaze broke a glass front door and part of the facade of the ornate terracotta and beige building. Smoke seeped inside.

Firefighters were called at about 2 a.m. Further damage came from water used to douse the blaze.

Investigators later confirmed the presence of gasoline. No one has been charged with the arson.

The Sheriff's Office is joined in the investigation by the state fire marshal and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which investigates anytime there is a fire inside a "house of worship."

Last year, a string of fires broke out at mosques throughout the Tampa Bay area. Investigators determined that two out of five fires were arson.

Sheriff's officials are asking anyone with information about the Feb. 24 fire to contact them at (813) 247-8200. Tips can also be provided anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 873-TIPS (8477).

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