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Hate crime counts filed in mosque fire

Ohio charges key on religious nature of damaged items

Linn

– Federal prosecutors Friday filed hate crimes charges against a DeKalb County man suspected of starting a fire at a northwest Ohio mosque, depicting the case as religiously motivated arson.

Authorities found remnants of a plastic gas can in the middle of the prayer room at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, which was left with smoke and water damage after a sprinkler system extinguished the Sunday blaze. Video from security cameras showed a man walk into the mosque with a gas can and a firearm and leave a short time later with only the firearm, apparently a revolver, according to a court affidavit filed by an FBI special agent.

The charges in U.S. District Court in Toledo allege Randolph Linn intentionally damaged property because of its religious character and used fire and explosives to commit a felony.

“Today’s charges should send a clear message to anyone who chooses to use fire and hate to destroy a place of worship,” said Stephen Anthony, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Cleveland office.

Linn, of St. Joe, has been in custody in Ohio on local charges filed earlier, with bond set at $400,000. He was arrested in Fort Wayne on Tuesday. A message was left for his public defender, who wasn’t available for comment Friday.

A woman who knows Linn had identified him in publicized surveillance images and contacted authorities Tuesday, the day he was arrested, according to the affidavit.

The woman told law officers Linn is an ex-Marine who had recently made comments complaining about the deaths of U.S. military members in the Middle East, recent attacks on U.S. embassies and Muslims’ angry reactions to an anti-Islam video posted online.

Agents who searched Linn’s home found firearms and a camouflage sweatshirt and cap matching the clothing worn by the man on the surveillance video, the affidavit said.

In the wake of the fire, Muslims in the Toledo area were planning a show of solidarity with prayer gatherings this weekend.

The damaged mosque sits along Interstate 75 and is a landmark in the area, with a golden dome that is visible for miles.

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