Man arrested in Minneapolis mosque break-in, vandalism

A broken window
A broken plate glass window was among an estimated $5,000 worth of damage at the Umatul Islam Center in south Minneapolis.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Updated 12:40 p.m. | Posted 11:51 a.m.

Minneapolis police say they've arrested a suspect in last week's break-in and vandalism at a mosque, but there's no indication that the crime was driven by hate.

Authorities say they arrested the 56-year-old suspect Tuesday night in connection with the break-in at the Umatul Islam Center in south Minneapolis. The center is located near Interstate 35W and Lake Street.

Police say they think the suspect is connected to a spate of burglaries over the past 10 days along east Lake Street on 2nd, 3rd and 4th avenues.

"This particular suspect has more than 170 Minneapolis police reports," Minneapolis Police Sgt. Jarrod Kunze told reporters. "Currently he's being investigated and under arrest for more than a dozen burglaries."

While police don't know the specific intent, the targets appear to be simply unoccupied businesses, he said.

Asked specifically about whether there was any indication the man was targeting the mosque, Kunze said: "I don't have any information that he targeted any one particular group. I don't know what his thought processes or intents were."

Members of the mosque said surveillance video showed someone breaking into the building late last Wednesday night, smashing windows and doors inside. Equipment and files were also reported missing.

Gov. Mark Dayton visited the mosque last weekend to express his support for the Somali-American community that worships there. He called the break-in un-Minnesotan and un-American.

Community leaders applauded news of the arrest.

"Obviously, this puts an ease to many of the community members," said Jaylani Hussein, director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "We're grateful to have law enforcement reacting in such a positive way and able to apprehend this gentleman."

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