CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — Authorities on Tuesday announced the arrest of a Missouri man with a history of vandalizing mosques for a fire that badly damaged an Islamic center.
Police said in a news release that Nicholas Proffitt was arrested Monday night for the Friday fire at the Islamic Center of Cape Girardeau, which is in southeast Missouri. Proffitt, 42, of Cape Girardeau, is charged in a warrant with first-degree arson, burglary and felony property damage. The charges are enhanced because Proffitt was motivated by “the religion of the people who worship at the Islamic Center,” police said.
At the time of the fire, between 12 and 15 people inside had to be evacuated; no one was injured.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations lauded the arrest and urged federal officials to file hate crime charges against Proffitt, noting he was convicted and served time for two felony property damage counts in 2009 for vandalizing the same mosque.
The fire was first deemed “suspicious” because it happened on the beginning of Ramadan, a holy month during which Muslims fast and pray.
Cape Girardeau is about 115 miles (185 kilometers) south of St. Louis.