Suspect in fatal Florida mosque beating shot by sheriffs

Bodycam footage shows authorities shooting suspect when he failed to comply with verbal commands

Police responded to an alert from the Husseini Islamic Centre in Sanford, Florida, where they discovered a man dead. Photo: Indian River Sheriff's Office

A man who beat a maintenance worker to death with a shovel at a mosque in central Florida was later shot and injured by deputies in a different county, officials said.

Seminole County deputies responded on Thursday to a call from the Husseini Islamic Centre in Sanford, Florida, where they discovered a man dead, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

The centre is about 40 kilometres north-east of Orlando.

Detectives said that Ahmed Raslan, who is originally from Egypt, had been making irrational statements online and apparently believed the mosque was his home.

It was not clear why he went to the mosque that morning and attacked the worker, but Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said that the maintenance worker probably saved many others by confronting Mr Raslan.

After the attack, Mr Raslan reportedly fled in the victim’s minivan, officials said.

He was later picked up by a licence plate reader and tracked to a car park outside a Sam’s Club warehouse store, where officers' bodycam footage shows Mr Raslan being ordered to turn around. He then reaches inside the van and is shot several times, the footage shows.

A licence plate reader led authorities to the victim's minivan, which was being driven by Raslan. Photo: Indian River Sheriff's Office

Mr Raslan was taken to hospital, but his condition was not immediately known.

Officials did not immediately release additional details about the shooting, but did reveal that he has been charged with premeditated murder in the first degree.

Victim is a ‘hero’

The 59-year-old maintenance worker was found by a co-worker who called 911 after discovering signs of a violent altercation. Chairs had been tossed about and a window had been smashed with a propane tank, Mr Lemma said.

the woman saw a body on the back porch and called the police.

“You can just imagine for one moment, if it wasn’t for the heroic efforts of our victim trying to confront this threat, struggle there and prevent any of those other people who may have been coming in just minutes later from experiencing similar fate,” Mr Lemma said.

The name of the victim has not been released.

The Islamic centre’s president, Mahmood Dhalla, praised the employee for saving the lives of others.

“He will be memorialised forever in our community. He saved our children’s lives,” Mr Dhalla told CNN.

“He was an amazing person. He always said, ‘I will protect this place with my life,’ and I think he did just that,” Mr Dhalla said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: March 26, 2022, 3:22 AM
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