San Diego police arrested a man after he entered a mosque during early-morning prayer, yelled “terrorist rats” and made death threats.
A surveillance camera captured the moments the suspect entered the Islamic Center on Eckstrom Avenue around 4:30 a.m. Monday.
“This is the first time somebody stepped in the mosque and tell us what he told us,” said Imam Taha Hassane. “Usually we receive phone calls or voice mails.”
People were just beginning to enter the mosque for prayer during the holy month of Ramadan when they noticed the man wearing shoes.
“We're not supposed to step with our shoes on this carpet but he stepped with his shoes and he kept looking inside,” Hassane said.
Members asked if the man needed any help but the man told them to "get lost" Hassane said.
“Then he told him, ‘Excuse me this is a mosque. If you want to come inside to observe the prayer with us or if you have any questions…’ and then he walked back and told him ‘You terrorist rats,’” said Hassane.
A surveillance camera inside the mosque caught the man’s action.
He appears to walk over to pamphlets on the wall and starts to leave. That’s when the Imam said the man started yelling obscenities and threatening everyone.
Witnesses told police the man yelled, "You terrorist rats, I'm going to kill you all.”
At this point, the video shows other members going to the front of the center trying to see what is going on.
Imam Hassane said the man took off on foot, with two other members following behind him.
The two led San Diego police to this area, where 52-year old Larry Rodgers was arrested.
The center has reported previous phone calls threatening to blow up the center and its school.
Investigators are now looking into whether Rodgers is also responsible for those.
"I'm wondering what type of motivation pushed this guy to come and say this,” Hassane said.
The center employs security guards to cover day and night hours. They say they are now considering having security in the morning also.
Rodgers has a court date set for July 26.