Tucson police released surveillance video of a man who broke into and vandalized the Islamic Center of Tucson a week ago.
The video shows the man illegally entering the center and walking throughout different areas of the building at 901 E. First Street. The break-in occurred about 3:30 a.m. March 13, and was reported to police shortly after 6 a.m. when it was discovered by worshippers.
Sgt. Robert Brandt, of the Tucson Police Department's Homeland Security Intelligence Unit, said he hopes that the release of the video will move the vandal to turn himself in, or help someone recognize him and call 911 or 88-CRIME.
Leaders of the center asked police not to show the man ripping copies of the Quran, or throwing them around the building because the act was too "heart-breaking", explained Mahmoud Obadi, a center spokesman. "The Quran is sacred. It is our Holy Scripture."
The surveillance camera photo of the vandal was submitted to the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the FBI, Brandt said. He said investigators are following up on tips. Numerous fingerprints were collected from the crime scene, but so far there have been no hits, said Brandt.
He said from the surveillance video it appears the vandal may be under the influence of a substance. The man was in the center for about 30 minutes and did become disruptive by throwing objects in the prayer hall.
The department's Homeland Security Intelligence Unit is responsible for investigating hate crimes, said Brandt. He said the underlying crime committed by the vandal is criminal trespass and criminal damage. Investigators need to talk to him and look at whether he had hatred or bias toward the center for its religious beliefs.
Obadi said some of the sacred books were damaged and were disposed of properly, while others were fine and were put back on the shelves. He said he does not understand why the vandal stooped down to that level.
"People have come before and expressed their anger. We don't mind that. There is an ability to start a conversation," said Obadi. He said from watching the surveillance footage he believes the vandal had a "hate inspired mindset."
Lynn Hourani, secretary and treasurer of the board of directors for the center, said two GoFundMe accounts have raised more than $24,000 to replace Qurans and help upgrade the security system by installing more surveillance cameras. The center also has closed several entrances, and is in the process of hiring a security guard.
"We have weekend school at the center for elementary school-aged children," said Hourani, adding that some 300 students — many refugees — will practice lock down drills and other safety measures.
"The outpouring of support from communities across the nation — Jewish communities, Islamic communities and other people — has been so humbling," Hourani said. "We have received many, many messages of love and support."