MERIDEN — Federal authorities have charged a Meriden man with firing several shots into a local mosque in November, hours after the terrorist attacks in Paris.
The U.S. Attorney's office says Ted Hakey, Jr., 49, was arrested Thursday night at his home on Main Street, which is next door to the Baitul Aman Mosque. He appeared in court on Friday, and will remain detained until a Monday morning hearing. The second hearing is needed for the two sides to discuss the terms of his bail if he's released.
"I would say that it's my fault that I haven't reached out to him enough," said Mohammed Qureshi, the president of the Connecticut Chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. "If he would've known us, then probably he wouldn't have done this."
A Friday afternoon prayer service at South Meriden's Baitul Aman Mosque was held in a prayer room where bullet holes in the walls and ceiling were reminders of what might have happened on that November night if the mosque hadn't been empty.
Qureshi said his community wants to pass on the true meaning of Islam, "They are all geared up to reach out to our neighbors to spread the peaceful message of Islam."
Meriden police received a call reporting gunshots at about 2 a.m. on November 14. Forensic analysis indicates that the gun shots that hit the mosque were fired from about 100 yards away, where Ted Hakey's house sits.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, police seized 24 guns and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition from Hakey's home. He admits to being out in his yard shooting that night, but says his intended targets were a dirt pile and a woodpile, not the mosque, which has nearly 250 members from as far away as Springfield, Massachusetts.
"We know there's a lot of tension and as a result we want to have that dialogue," said Salaam Bhatti, spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. "We want to have that question and answer session. There's a lot of questions out there we can't let people with guns create this terrorism to frighten us."
Gov Dannel P. Malloy and U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty were among those who attended special open services at the mosque shortly after the incident.
Hakey, who is facing up to 20 years in prison for this federal hate crime, told investigators he harbors no ill will toward Muslims, but, his Facebook account says otherwise. Investigators found more than 40 examples of Muslim hatred the ex-Marine posted over the last two years.
But, Qureshi took the high road. "Our message stays the same: Love for all, hatred for none."