Investigators on Monday arrested a homeless man in connection with a fire that destroyed a building Friday at an Islamic center in Houston, Texas.
Houston Fire Department arson investigators said Darryl Ferguson, who is homeless and allegedly has a criminal record, admitted to setting the fire to the family center of the Quba Islamic Institute, according to television station KPRC.
As he was being arrested, a reporter from the station asked Ferguson whether he started the fire to stay warm. Ferguson replied: “Yes.”
“The investigators worked very hard since the fire and I expressed my concern to the imam of the Islamic center and wanted him to feel rest-assured that we were working hard to find the individual who set the fire,” Chief Arson Investigator Ruben Hernandez told KPRC.
“I believe obviously it could have been an accident,” Ahsan Zahid, one of the imams at the center, told the news station. “If that’s what it turns out to be, we’ll be happier than if it was a hate crime.”
Zahid added that members of the center have received direct threats online since the fire.
The family center of the institute was declared a complete loss after the Friday fire.
Correction: This post has been updated to show it was the suspect, not investigators, who said the fire was set to stay warm.