Wednesday, 17 October 2018

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Jacksonville man who planned to shoot up mosque sentenced to 5 years on firearm conviction

By Joe Daraskevich, For The Florida Times Union, On 18 September 2018, Read Original

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A 69-year-old Jacksonville man who threatened a mass shooting at a mosque was sentenced to five years in prison this week after he was convicted in May for possessing an unregistered firearms silencer, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Authorities started an investigation into Bernandino Gawala Bolatete when a confidential source shared information with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office that Bolatete planned to shoot up a local mosque if he got news that his only kidney had failed, according to court documents. The investigation revealed Bolatete had a collection of firearms and was almost always armed.

He was introduced to an undercover detective who told Bolatete he knew someone with access to a silencer, and Bolatete then asked to buy one as long is it wasn’t registered with the government, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Bolatete was taken into custody Dec. 1 after he purchased the silencer for $100 but said at the time that he purchased it for hunting, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The FBI found a large collection of firearms and ammunition when they searched his home and vehicle.

The Florida Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations expressed satisfaction with Bolatete’s sentence.

 

“This is another example of the many hate incidents committed against Florida Muslims that are not prosecuted as hate crimes,” said communications director Wilfredo Amr Ruiz. “This often leads to the false impression that there are fewer hate crimes committed against the Florida Muslim community. Notwithstanding this, we hope that this sentence will serve as a deterrent for the many hate crimes that unfortunately are so frequently experienced by Florida Muslims.”

Bolatete was convicted May 11.

Joe Daraskevich: (904) 359-4308