Person of interest wanted in Islamic Center arson - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Person of interest wanted in Islamic Center arson

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The Perrysburg Township Police Department along with the Ohio State Fire Marshal have determined arson as the cause of weekend fire at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo.

Police released surveillance photos Monday of a person of interest in the fire and the vehicle he was driving at the time.

Officials are asking anyone with information to call the Ohio State Fire Marshal at 1-800-589-2728 or Perrysburg Township Police at 419-974-3551.

Police are guarding the Islamic Center around the clock to make sure no one gets close to the property.

"We are shocked and saddened about what we are experiencing," says Dr. Mahjabeen Islam of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo.

Leaders of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo are cooperating with authorities as investigators rule Sunday evening's fire an arson.

"Correct, it was intentionally set," says Detective Sergeant James Gross with the Perrysburg Township Police Department.

Det. Sgt. Gross won't release specifics, only saying that evidence found at the scene leads to foul play.

The State Fire Marshall's Office and the ATF are involved in the investigation. The ATF is involved because a place of worship was targeted, according to the fire marshall's office.

"We're looking for any information that would lead to the apprehension of the person that's responsible for this," says Det. Sgt. Gross.

Sunday night Perrysburg Township firefighters told 13abc the fire started in the second floor prayer room. There is extensive smoke and water damage. They also said no one was inside the Islamic Center at the time the fire alarm went off.

"We've never had an incident at the Islamic Center as long as I've been here that compares to this," says Det. Sgt. Gross.

Dr. Islam says there were a lot of people inside the center throughout the day.

"Yesterday, Sunday is a busy day," says Dr. Islam. "We have a Sunday sermon, we have Sunday school, we have activities within the Islamic Center."

Neither Islamic Center officials nor investigators would comment on whether this fire could be related to attacks or protests at American embassies overseas.

"I'm not going to get into that type of stuff. We're investigating all aspects of how and why the fire was set," says Det. Sgt. Gross.

Islamic Center leaders have contacted all 650 families who are members here to alert them that for now the center remains closed.

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