Fairfax County Police have arrested a Centreville man they believe caused more than $200,000 worth of damages by smashing the windows of a Chantilly mosque earlier this year.
Police arrested Trenton M. Carter, 18, of Round Lick Lane, on May 3 on one count of felony destruction of private property, according to arrest records. Fairfax County Police believe Carter did not act alone, and expect there will be a second arrest, "possibly more," said Capt. Purvis Dawson, commander of the Sully District Station.
Dawson said the arrest confirmed the police's initial theory that the vandalism was not a hate crime, but rather "a random act of vicious stupidity, of vandalism."
The investigation continues. Police said they intentionally did not publicize the arrest right away because they did not want to compromise the case.
"Even though we made one arrest, there's a lot more work to do," said Dawson.
Leaders of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community had planned to open the mosque early this spring. The specially-ordered glass cost between $3,000 and $6,000 per window. The damages were much worse than the community had thought initially—eventually estimated at over $200,000.
The vandalism made international news, as it ignited fears that the act was a hate crime. But it also generated a great deal of positive community outreach toward the mosque, through comments on Patch, and neighbors reaching out.
During the course of the investigation, officers from the Sully District Station conducted "extensive outreach," said Dawson, by mailing fliers and canvassing neighborhoods. Led by Detective Kim Cook, and Officer Mike Roberts, police collected evidence at the scene and conducted extensive interviews. They received a tremendous amount of support from the community, in part due to the highly-publicized nature of the crime.
"The public has been such an incredible help," Dawson said.
Usman Ghumman, the general secretary of the Northern Virginia chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, said there are plans to open the mosque at the end of this month, and the congregation is looking forward to welcoming everyone from the community who reached out to support them. Moreover, the arrest brought him some peace.
"It brings the whole thing to a closure—especially close to the opening—and it gives a sense of satisfaction that someone will be held accountable for these misdeeds," said Ghumman.
This article was published on May 10, 2012.