Members of a McKinney mosque are cleaning up after their place of worship was targeted in a possible hate crime.
Members discovered more than two dozen paintballs covering the Islamic Center on El Dorado Parkway on Sunday. White paint from the projectiles is splattered all over the doors.
“This is a shock. And it’s a sad situation, because this is a place of worship,” said Bilal Khaleeq.
Khaleeq is on the board for the DFW Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and said he can’t believe someone would vandalize the McKinney Islamic Association.
Yet, under the cover of darkness, the mosque was pelted with dozens of paintballs. Members believe the vandals struck sometime between 11 p.m. Saturday and 5 a.m. Sunday.
“It shows you the rising level of Islamaphobia in the nation,” said Khaleeq.
Leaders said this isn’t the first time their faith has come under attack.
Khaleeq said threatening comments have been made to members leaving the mosque and others have been followed. Additionally, a car was hit by paintballs the night before the attack on the mosque.
“It’s that constant fear that you will look around you. If someone is behind me, are they really following me?” Khaleeq said.
CAIR said there have been mosques marred by graffiti in Georgia as well.
Members said they’re just trying to worship in peace.
“We’re asking law enforcement to investigate this, to see if there’s a possibility linking this to a hate crime," said Khaleeq.
Members said they won’t allow the vandalism to scare them off. Rather, members said they would welcome whoever vandalized the facility to visit the mosque, so they can dispel misunderstandings and try to understand what’s driving this crime.
Sgt. Chad Barker of the McKinney Police Department told NBC 5 police are still considering whether the vandalism will be investigated as a hate crime.
“It’s in the process of being assigned to an investigator. Once it is assigned to an investigator, I will know how the case will be filed. We are also creating an extra patrol bulletin for our patrol officers. This will increase the police presence in the area,” said Barker.