Mon, Dec 29, 2014 - Page 7 News List

‘Hate crime’ suspect in US found to be schizophrenic

‘NO QUESTION’:Although the suspect’s family said mental illness, not hatred, led to the vandalism of an Islamic center, the FBI may still treat it as a hate crime

AP, FRESNO, California

A 28-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of vandalizing the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno in California on Christmas day, causing investigators at first to suspect a hate crime, police said on Saturday.

However, relatives of 28-year-old suspect Asif Mohammad Khan have gone public to say that schizophrenia — and not hatred — led to the unfortunate incident.

“It is a case of mental illness,” said his sister, Samia Khan. “There’s no question about that.”

Asif Mohammad Khan has been booked into jail on charges including felony vandalism for the more than US$10,000 in damage done on Thursday to the Islamic Cultural Center and a nearby medical office.

In the search for a suspect, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer had said that the broken windows and bleach poured on a US flag inside the Islamic center appeared to be a hate crime.

On Saturday, Dyer said that investigators interviewed Khan and their theory has changed.

“It was obviously not as we thought,” Dyer said, adding that police will let FBI agents decide whether hate crime charges are warranted.

Khan confessed, telling officers he was upset with people at the Islamic center for talking down to or bullying him, Dyer said.

Samia Khan said that doctors in 2009 diagnosed her brother as schizophrenic and in the days before the incidents of vandalism at the center, he had not taken his medication.

Samia Khan said she joined Fresno police at a news conference to explain her brother’s illness, where she said her family is part of Fresno’s close-knit Muslim community and apologized for her brother.

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