SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – The man accused of killing a maintenance worker at a Sanford-area mosque in March is now locked up in the Seminole County jail after he was shot by deputies in Indian River County following the homicide.
Ahmed Raslan, 38, was booked into the Seminole jail on Friday, records show.
Investigators believe he is the man who killed Mahmood Al Taee, 59, of Longwood at Husseini Islamic Center near Sanford on March 24.
Raslan had been in the hospital since the day of the homicide when he was stopped by deputies in Indian River County in the parking lot of a Sam’s Club.
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Body camera video released by the sheriff’s office shows deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop and when the man got out of the vehicle, he reached into his pocket and gestured with his fingers like he had a weapon, according to the sheriff there. Deputies ultimately opened fire when the man tried to get back into the van, according to investigators.
The sheriff’s office said that Raslan was possibly deranged and believed he was told to come to the mosque by Julius Caesar. They said the suspect has said he was told to defend Julius Caesar’s home, and he was given the address of the mosque.
“He felt this was his home, and the property on the inside was Caesar’s property,” Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said. “And his intent was to defend that, even at the cost of murder. It looks like our victim in this case, in a very heroic effort, was the first person that actually walked into the establishment at the time.”
Raslan faces a charge of first-degree premeditated murder.
The victim was a refugee from Iraq who was getting ready to return home following the death of his father.
“He was the heart and soul of this mosque,” said Mahmood Dhalla, president of the Husseini Islamic Center. “He’s always said, ‘I would protect this place with my life’ and I think he did. So we’re very grateful.”