Man arrested in attack outside Florida mosque

The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of felony battery after an attack Saturday at the Fort Pierce Islamic Center.

Taylor Anthony Mazzanti was booked into the St. Lucie County Jail and held on a $3,750 bail, Sheriff Ken. J. Mascara said.

The state’s largest Muslim civil rights group said it will file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice and with Gov. Rick Scott after a Muslim man was attacked and beaten outside the Fort Pierce Islamic Center early Saturday.

According to a statement from the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Florida, a white truck stopped at the mosque at about 4:45 a.m. and a man stepped out uttered racial slurs.

“You Muslims need to get back to your country,” the man said before attacking the man and knocking out a tooth.

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Abul Rauf Khan, relief assistant executive director for the Islamic Circle of North America, witnessed the event and called 911. Two St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputies responded and arrested the suspect an hour later. The Sheriff’s Office was not immediately available for comment.

“This should not have happened. For over two weeks, we have been emphasizing that the community from the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce needs to be offered security from the sheriff’s office,” said Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, CAIR-Florida communications director. “Unfortunately, our requests were repeatedly ignored.”

On Friday CAIR filed a public records request with the Sheriff’s Office for documents to explain why an imam’s request for additional security at the Fort Pierce mosque attended by Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen was rejected.

Sheriff’s spokesman Bryan Beaty told The Palm Beach Post in an email last week that the sheriff’s first priority was ensuring the safety and security of the entire community. The department could not provide additional security because of other “pre-existing obligations and insufficient manpower,” he wrote.

The sheriff has since “reached out to the mosque to explore their needs,” Beaty wrote. “After repeated attempts to work with them, they have not responded to us.”

The mosque has not received any communication from the Sheriff’s Office, Ruiz said.

“Muslims are part of the community just like everyone else,” Ruiz said in the statement issued Saturday morning. “It is his duty and responsibility to ensure the safety of all his citizens.”

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