Man arrested on suspicion of firebombing Coachella mosque

A 23-year-old man from Coachella was arrested for the firebombing of a mosque, and remained jailed there Saturday.

Carl Dial, 23, of Coachella, was arrested Friday night for suspicion of commission of a hate crime, arson, maliciously setting a fire, and second degree burglary, according to county jail records.

Jail officials and sheriff's deputies today would not publicly link the Friday night arrest to that day's firebombing of the Islamic Society of Coachella Valley. But the Los Angeles Times reported the arrest was for that alleged crime.

Dial was booked at the Riverside County jail in Indio, and held in lieu of $150,000 bail. Until today, deputies would say they had detained a "person of interest.''

Worshipper at the mosque said a "Molotov cocktail-like device'' was thrown into the building's reception area at 12:09 p.m. Friday.

Riverside County firefighters quickly contained the fire to the front lobby of the building, but smoke damage lingered throughout the mosque.

No one was injured, though Islamic Society of Coachella Valley President Reymundo Nour said this was likely because the fire happened about an hour before the start of an afternoon prayer session, when more people would have been in the building.

Sheriff's Deputy Armando Munoz said that the department believes "this is an intentional act potentially resulting in a hate crime.''

A person of interest was "quickly identified'' and detained Friday.

Sheriff's deputies were investigating the fire with the assistance of Cal-Fire and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"This is an active, ongoing investigation,'' said Munoz.

Local elected officials spoke out against the attack and in support of law enforcement efforts to locate the suspect or suspects.

Coachella mayor Steven Hernandez decried the attack and characterized it as antithetical to American values.

"We see this as a cowardly act of vandalism that we will not tolerate in our community,'' said Hernandez. "Freedom of religion is one of our core values in this country, so any time we witness violence or vandalism directed at a religious institution, it flies in the face of everything we stand for and believe in as Americans.''

Riverside County 4th District Supervisor John J. Benoit said he was "deeply concerned about this disturbing fire.

"I want the public to know law enforcement is taking this very seriously. We do not tolerate domestic terrorism in our community. Whoever is responsible will be brought to justice.''

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