(Note: This story updates an earlier item that incorrectly indicated charges had been filed.)
A 23-year-old man is due in an Indio courtroom Wednesday where he could face a hate crime charge in connection with the firebombing of a Riverside County mosque.
Carl James Dial, 23, of Palm Desert, was detained Friday night on suspicion of five felonies including commission of a hate crime, arson, maliciously setting a fire and burglary, according to Riverside County jail records.
Dial was arrested in the 700 block of Country Club Drive in Palm Desert and booked into the Riverside County jail in Indio. He is being held in lieu of $150,000 bail and is due in court at the Larson Justice Center on Wednesday morning. Authorities said Sunday that no formal charges have been filed yet in the case.
“Once we receive a formal submission of the case from the investigating agency, we will review the evidence and make a decision,” said John Hall, spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
The suspect’s father, John Dial, told the San Gabriel Valley News Tribune that he hopes the media and others will remember his son is innocent until proven guilty.
The fire at the Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley came nine days after Riverside County employee Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27, killed 14 people and injured 21 others during a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2.
It was unclear whether the two incidents were related, but dozens of other threats, harassment and vandalism have one been reported at mosques nationwide since the San Bernardino shootings.
Worshippers at the Islamic Society mosque said a “Molotov cocktail-like device” was thrown into the reception area of the 1,800-square-foot building at 84650 Avenue 49 at 12:09 p.m. Friday.
Cal Fire Riverside officials said crews contained the flames to the lobby area at 12:46 p.m., but there was smoke damage throughout the mosque. No injuries were reported.
Islamic Society President Reymundo Nour said this was likely because the fire happened about an hour before the start of an afternoon prayer session, when more people would have been in the building.
Sheriff’s Deputy Armando Munoz said the department believes “this is an intentional act potentially resulting in a hate crime.”
A person of interest was “quickly identified” and detained Friday. That person turned out to be Dial.
Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies were continuing their investigation with the assistance of Cal-Fire, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI.
FBI officials said they are always concerned when religious facilities are attacked or vandalized.
“Anytime there is a concern that a house of worship may have been targeted, we would respond and have an investigative interest in the cause and whether or not it was deliberate,” an FBI source told NBC News.
“This is an active, ongoing investigation,” Munoz said.
— City News Service