Meriden mosque supports lenient sentence for shooter who targeted them

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MERIDEN -- In November, hours after the Paris terrorist attacks left 130 people dead, a Meriden man shot at a mosque neighboring his home. But, as he gets set to face sentencing on Friday, leaders of the victimized mosque are pleading for leniency toward Ted Hakey, Jr.

Hakey, 49,  faces up to 14 months in prison and a $40,000 fine for this hate crime against a religious property.

"I want to just apologize to everybody," said Hakey, as he addressed the Baitul Aman Mosque on April 2.

He pleaded guilty in February to damaging religious property with a dangerous weapon, and has also professed his regret. And the leadership of the mosque, which opened nine years ago, believes Hakey.

"You came and prayed with us and bowed your head with us in prayer and you're helping to educate other people, who we could never reach out to," said Zahir Mannan, the outreach director for the Baitul Aman Mosque.

The shooting and subsequent apology have led to speaking opportunities for the mosque's leaders with veterans' organizations, schools and other houses of worship.

Hakey, who lives with his wife in a home that rests no more than 100 yards from the mosque, said in court that he shot at the building because of his hatred for Muslims. But, his social media accounts show that tune has changed.

"He says 'I know I educated myself on the true Islam and you should to,'" said Mannan, who realizes Hakey’s reformation could inspire those who have any amount of hate in their hearts.

"And they haven't done anything yet or they feel that they're about to do something, it might prevent them from future violence," said Mannan

"If I had spent five minutes with you it would've been all the difference in the world and I didn't do that," said Hakey as he apologized to the mosque membership.

Hakey credits a court-mandated addiction treatment program that includes meditation and gardening with helping him find some inner clarity.

He said that "when I get out I'm going to work with them, they were very genuine, if you were over there, if you spoke to them, they're really good people over there."

Hakey is presently under house arrest at his mother’s home in Shelton.