The self-described Donald Trump supporter who was arrested Sunday after police found a pipe bomb in his Richmond, California home stood outside a mosque on Dec. 4 and yelled, “I’m going to kill you all” at worshippers, The San Jose Mercury News reported Tuesday.
Imam Hamza Meter recounted Celli’s rant at the Islamic Society of West Contra Costa County to the Mercury News and said it’s the first time in almost 20 years that the mosque has faced threats.
“I think this should be classified as not just a hate crime but terrorism,” Meter told the newspaper.
Police didn’t arrest the man, 55-year-old William Celli, for more than two weeks. Local TV station KPIX had previously reported that a tipster only told police about Celli’s threatening statements on Thursday.
On the same day he confronted mosque-goers, Celli posted a status on Facebook that read: “Against radical Islam and for these not so senseless slaughters that have been going on all over the world.” A childhood friend of Celli’s from Connecticut, Maria DiLoreto Banks, provided screenshots of that Facebook post and others that appear to have been deleted from Celli’s profile to The Guardian.
Celli, who wrote that he would follow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump “to the end of the world,” also allegedly posted a photo of a pipe bomb to Facebook, according to the Guardian.
Celli is being held on a $525,000 bond on suspicion of making criminal threats and possession of an explosive device.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that the device police found at Celli’s home wasn’t armed with explosive material at the time.
Richmond Police Capt. Mark Gagan told the newspaper that they are still investigating if Celli intended to commit any acts of violence, but his actions at the mosque rattled worshippers enough to photograph Celli in his car.
“We’re relieved to have him in custody and that the bomb we were afraid he would use has been found inert and seized,” he told the Mercury News.
- -Hiring More Journalists
- -Providing free memberships to those who cannot afford them
- -Supporting independent, non-corporate journalism