Juvenile may be charged in Islamic Center vandalism

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

July 12, 2013 at 2:12 a.m.
Updated July 13, 2013 at 2:13 a.m.

Islamic Center Imam Osama Hassan would prefer charges not be filed against a juvenile boy suspected of spray-painting hateful graffiti on the worship center this week.

Only days into Ramadan, a monthlong period of fasting and prayer in Islam, Hassan said the act of the boy who came forward Thursday admitting responsibility to spray-painting "H8" on the front of the building should be forgiven.

"This is a time of forgiveness, and we would like to show peace," Hassan said Friday.

Victoria Police Chief J.J. Craig said as of Friday no arrests have been made, but that could change by early next week if the district attorney accepts the charges.

"At this point, he has obviously admitted his involvement," Craig said. "The first part of next week, we'll present the case for charges to be filed for his assessment."

If District Attorney Steve Tyler decides to file charges, officials will determine whether to take the juvenile into custody. If Tyler determines there is enough preliminary evidence to pursue the case as anti-Muslim, the charges will reflect that, Craig said.

"That is part of the investigation as it continues. That's part of the hate crime (element), and that part is ongoing," the chief said.

Hassan said he was told by police that others may have been involved in the Islamic Center vandalism.

The boy's name was not released because he is a juvenile, and he has not been charged with a crime.



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