Editor's note: this article was published on January 31, 2012.
Fairfax County Police believe that the recent vandalism at the construction site of a new Chantilly mosque was probably a random act of vicious vandalism, Captain Purvis Dawson, the commander of the Sully District Station, said Tuesday.
The Northern Virginia chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community will have to delay the mosque's opening (previously scheduled for late February), and leaders estimate the amount of damage is in the tens of thousands of dollars. The vandalism has generated interest throughout the metro area and from Islamic communities around the country. The Council on American-Islamic Relations this morning issued a press release asking that the FBI become involved and consider bias as a possible motive. However, at this point in the investigation, authorities do not think that was the reason for the crime.
Dawson said that while theories could change as police gather more information, right now the evidence at the scene seems to lead to the conclusion that the crime was a random act.
"We’ll welcome anybody’s help, but right now what we have indicates that this is a random act of vicious stupidity, of vandalism,” Dawson said in a phone interview, after spending two and a half hours personally interviewing community members and reviewing the scene Tuesday morning. There was no previous record of vandalism at the site, he said.
Moreover, when police checked over the scene, there were "no racial slurs, no derogatory slang, nothing that indicates it was a hate crime," he added.
Detectives spent many hours combing over the site and collecting evidence Monday. There was a tremendous amount of broken glass and open alcoholic containers. Police are also looking at records to determine if there have been any similar cases of vandalism in nearby neighborhoods. Due to the amount of damage and beer bottles, investigators believe there were multiple people involved in the destruction.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community leaders estimate that the damage could cost up to $60,000. However, they expect that insurance will cover the damages. The biggest problem is that the mosque will have to delay opening after over a decade of hard work and planning.
The response from the local community after the event has been positive, Usmann Ghumman, the community's general secretary, said on Tuesday. Many people have reached out to him directly, and through the comments section on Patch, to convey their sympathy and condolences.
Dawson said that officers would be canvassing the adjacent neighborhoods to see if anyone heard or saw anything on Sunday. He urged people to contact Crime Solvers if they have any information for the police. The number is 1-866-411-TIPS/8477, or text “TIP187” plus the message to CRIMES/274637.
“It’s an active case and we are asking for the community’s help," Dawson said.