Neighbor Charged With Firing Shots At Meriden Mosque
A Meriden man was ordered held without bond Friday after being charged with firing several shots into a mosque in response to the November attacks in Paris.
Ted Hakey Jr., 48, was arrested Thursday night at his home, which is next to the Baitul Aman Mosque.
He appeared in U.S. District Court in New Haven on Friday on charges of intentionally damaging religious property. A detention hearing was scheduled for Monday.
Prosecutors allege Hakey shot at the mosque at about 2 a.m. on Nov. 14, 2015, hours after the attacks in France by Islamic extremists.
Hakey told investigators he had about 10 drinks the night of Nov. 13, learned about the Paris attacks after firing at the mosque and did not harbor any ill feelings toward Muslims, according to an arrest affidavit.
But a comment posted on his Facebook page in January 2014 read, "I hate Muslims," according to the arrest warrant affidavit.
Four bullets hit the mosque, three penetrated the building and one passed through a "prayer area" before exiting through an exterior wall, authorities said. No one was inside the mosque at the time and no one was injured.
"All citizens of this earth should be free to worship without fear of violence," U.S. Attorney Deidre Daly said. "As Americans, we must not let fear drive us away from our values and toward hateful and divisive acts against others."
A total of 24 firearms were seized from Hakey's house, authorities said.
Hakey gave mostly yes or no answers to a series of questions Friday from the U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah A.L. Merriam. A message seeking comment was left for his attorney, Jeffrey B. Cohen.
Hakey could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty were among those who attended special services at the mosque shortly after the incident.
Dr. Mohammed Qureshi, president of the Connecticut chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said Hakey would be forgiven and welcome at the mosque.
"We believe Islam has a peaceful message," Qureshi told the Hartford Courant. "We want to extend our feelings of peace to him as well."