FBI agents meet with Muslim community in Meriden

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MERIDEN-- It's a challenging time for the local Muslim community, especially after a Meriden mosque was shot at last weekend -- just hours after the Paris terror attacks.

Special agents from Connecticut' s  FBI division met with local members of the Muslim community in Meriden Saturday afternoon in an effort to a better job engaging with the Muslim community.

"There`s still some distrust issues among the community members, and that`s the goal, and I don`t know what that`s going to look like. I don`t know exactly how to do this, but I'm committed to doing something," said Patricia Ferrick, the Connecticut FBI division's special agent in-charge.

The  FBI hasn't met with Connecticut Muslims like this since 2010, and Saturday afternoon's event was scheduled months ago, coincidentally, before the paris attacks and last weekend's shooting at Baitul Aman mosque in Meriden.

No one was hurt but several bullets penetrated the building.

"They`re being targeted by the extremists on one side, and the hate mongers and bigots on the other side. You`re actually sandwiched as a community between these two extreme groups," said Dr. Saud Anwar, a South Windsor town council member and activist for security issues involving Muslims in the United States.

FBI agents told the crowd that they believe the mosque shooting was an isolated incident and don't believe the threat will continue.

Sources tell FOX 61 that investigators are interviewing a person of interest in the shooting.  The FBI wouldn't confirm that,  but say there's a possibility it could be a hate-crime.

"The facts have to unfold in such a way with the U.S. Attorney`s office involved.  It  has to meet certain elements of the crime, and once we determine that, the person involved will be charged accordingly," said Ferrick.

Local Muslim leaders say it's important their community works together with authorities.

"We have a common enemy in the form of ISIS.  We need to unite together, rather than marginalizing the community. It is important top support the community," said Anwar.

Jaleel Rahman, a member of Baitul Aman Mosique, still doesn't understand why his place of worship was targeted, but hopes relationships formed during this meeting could help ease the  tension in  the Muslim community.

"I think this will be helpful in the long run," said Rahman.

Read more about the Paris terror attacks here.

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