Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:July 7th, 2009 09:19 EST
Two Teens Arrested for Vandalizing an Islamic School

Two Teens Arrested for Vandalizing an Islamic School

By SOP newswire2

Miami-Dade police have charged two teens in the latest vandalism of a West Kendall mosque and school that has been targeted twice this year.

Michael Derek Lobo and Juan Carlos Gonzalez-Vaca, both 17, were arrested Thursday night at Killian Senior High School, according to a police affidavit.

The two are accused of walking onto the property of the Islamic School of Miami, 11699 SW 147th Ave., on the night of June 26 and smashing two windows on the school`s west wall with an iron rod. They covered their faces while on the property and also slashed two tires of a 2003 Dodge van, according to their arrest reports.

Gonzalez-Vaca told police that the vandalism had been planned for months. He said ``all Muslims are terrorists,`` according to the report.

Police say the teens would have spray painted an expletive toward Muslims on the wall of the school, but the spray paint can they bought was missing a nozzle. Police say the teens threw the can onto the roof of an adjacent building, where it was later recovered.

Members of the school and Masjid Al-Noor mosque reported the vandalism to police Tuesday after the broken windows were discovered. The case was investigated by Miami-Dade`s Hammocks District General Investigations Unit and was solved thanks, in part, to a CrimeStoppers tip.

Police say Gonzalez-Vaca and Lobo confessed to the crime.

Both teens are charged with criminal mischief to a mosque, evidencing prejudice while committing an offense and wearing a mask while committing an offense.

Nidal Hussain, a spokesman for the school and mosque, said leaders were initially relieved to hear of the arrests but were troubled that ``vulnerable`` teenagers allegedly committed the vandalism.

``We come here to pray and be peaceful, and its unfortunate that something like this would happen,`` he said, noting that last week`s vandalism was one of about six instances in the past few years.

Six months ago, the mosque was sprayed with 51 bullets that left broken windows and holes in the building`s golden dome. In June 2005, unknown assailants used a large rock to shatter the door of the Islamic center, which draws 500 Muslims for Friday prayers and has a 250-student religious school.

The year before, the center`s sign near Southwest 147th Avenue was defaced with a Nazi swastika and profanity. No arrests have been made in the prior vandalisms.

Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Detective Aida Fina-Milian said last week`s vandalism is not believed to have been connected to the previous incidents.

Miami Herald reporter Jaweed Kaleem contributed to this report.

BY DAVID SMILEY

dsmiley@MiamiHerald.com

SOURCE: CAIR