Fire Officials Release Video Appearing To Show Attempted Arson At North Austin Mosque

Apr 24, 2019

The Austin Fire Department has released video and photos of a man sought in an attempted arson case at a North Austin mosque this week.

Officials said a person was captured on security video around 12:38 a.m. Tuesday pouring what appears to be gasoline on the side of the North Austin Muslim Community Center and then attempting to light the fluid.

At a news conference, Capt. Andy Reardon, the AFD's lead investigator, said the department needs the public’s help identifying the suspect.

Fire officials described the suspect as a male with a white or light complexion, about 6-feet tall and 160 pounds. He was wearing a blue Nike hoodie — concealing his face — and blue jeans and dark Nike tennis shoes.

Credit Courtesy of Austin Fire Department

"We're going to catch you and we're going to prosecute you," Reardon said.

He said officials were looking at a charge of attempted arson "at a bare minimum."

The man was on the mosque property for 20 minutes and drove a light-colored pickup truck, the fire department said. Anyone with information on the man's identity is asked to call 512-472-8477. 

Reardon told members of the Muslim community that officials were concerned for their welfare.

"We are dedicating all the resources that we have – both in our office and with local and federal law enforcement to figure out who perpetrated this crime and to prosecute them for it," he said.

The mosque was the target of repeated vandalism last fall. It hired an armed security guard after tires were slashed and the building's front doors and windows were shattered in September.

That same month, the Austin Police Department released photos of a person of interest in a vandalism incident at a nearby Muslim-owned grocery store. The man in the photos appeared to be the same man shown on the mosque's surveillance footage, police said at the time.

Sangita Menon contributed to this report.

This post has been updated. 

Correction: An earlier verision of this story said the suspect's vehicle was a Ford F150. The information was based on an AFD flyer. Reardon later said authorities could not confirm the vehicle's make or model.