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Man arrested in arson at mosque attended by Pulse nightclub shooter

Joseph Michael Schreiber arrested in Florida

FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Sheriff's investigators say a man accused of setting fire to a Florida mosque confessed and said he was embarrassed.

According to a St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office arrest affidavit released Thursday, 32-year-old Joseph Schreiber was developed as a suspect in the fire Sunday at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce in part because of a tip.

Detectives say that after his arrest Wednesday, Schreiber admitted setting the fire, said he had no intention of hurting anyone and was embarrassed to have committed the crime.

Schreiber was ordered held without bail earlier Thursday. The public defender's office had no immediate comment.

Schreiber was arrested in connection with the fire at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, which sustained extensive damage in a blaze set late Sunday, on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

The fire also coincided with the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha.

Schreiber was arrested Wednesday by St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office investigators, and charged with arson after a tip came in to deputies Tuesday night identifying Schreiber as the suspect in the mosque arson.

Deputies said they searched Schreiber's home and also found a motorcycle matching the one that was seen in surveillance video, speeding away from the fire.

They also found Schreiber posted anti-Islamic comments on social media, deputies said.

"There is anti-Islam propaganda, and that corroborates our fear that it has to do with the Islamic community," said Maj. Dave Thompson, with the Sheriff's Office.

News 6 found out Schreiber has been in and out of prison, serving a combined 6 1/2 years for theft.

Because the arson may be a hate crime, investigators said he could face a first-degree felony for igniting the mosque, which could land him back in prison for 30 years.

If he's found to be a habitual offender, he could face life in prison.

The FBI is continuing its investigation to see if Schreiber could face federal charges.


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