Shots fired into Islamic Center of Hattiesburg
Written by, Haskel Burns, American Staff Writer
Hattiesburg police are investigating a Tuesday incident in which several shots were fired into the Islamic Center of Hattiesburg.
Hattiesburg Police Department spokesman Lt. Jon Traxler said police initially received a report at about 11:45 p.m. Tuesday of several shots being fired in the 200 block of North 25th Avenue.
“(Officers) arrived and couldn’t find anything, and there was not a specific house given where shots were fired,” he said.
Jerry Buti of the Islamic Center, which is at 211 N. 25th Ave., said he discovered bullet holes in the building around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday and immediately reported the damage, at which point officers arrived back on the scene. Buti said two shots appear to have been fired from the back yard before passing through the front of the building, while two or three more shots were fired through the front door.
“When (officers) arrived (Wednesday) morning about 6 o’clock, they did find some bullet holes through a window in the front and through a door that did go through a wall and hit some more doors and windows in the building,” Traxler said. “That’s all we have right now — no leads on suspects or anything like that.”
No one was in the building at the time of the shooting.
“To be honest with you, we have no idea (why it happened),” Buti said. “This is a very, very peaceful community. We’ve been here for over 35 years, and we’ve never had this problem before.”
Traxler said officers will pursue the incident as a malicious mischief case.
“We don’t have anything else to go on because nobody was home,” he said. “So it definitely wouldn’t be aggravated assault.”
For the time being, Buti is planning a temporary fix for the damage at the center, which hosts prayer gatherings for 20-30 members each day.
“We’re not going to file on insurance for right now, until we see the outcome of this,” Buti said. “We’re going to cover (the holes) with some kind of tape and let the community know what’s been going on over here. As far as any expenses, we’re going to be taking care of that.”
Despite the vandalism, activities at the Islamic Center won’t be affected.
“Not all all, trust me,” Buti said. “We’re not going to cancel any prayer — five times a day we do prayer, plus the Friday prayer.”
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