Escondido mosque fire

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Escondido mosque fire
Map of California highlighting San Diego County.svg
DateMarch 24, 2019
Time3:15 am
LocationEscondido, California
SuspectsJohn T. Earnest
ChargesArson attack

The Escondido mosque fire was an arson attack perpetrated against the Islamic Center of Escondido, California, in March 2019.[1][2][3]

Police found graffiti on the mosque's driveway that referenced the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, leading them to consider the fire a terrorist attack.[3] For over a month no suspect was identified. Then, on April 27, John T. Earnest entered the nearby Chabad of Poway synagogue and opened fire, killing one and injuring three others. An online posting from Earnest admitted responsibility for the mosque arson. No one was injured in the fire, and it was put out before extensive damage occurred.


Dar-ul-Arqam mosque was set on fire on Sunday, March 24, 2019, at 3:15 am.[2] The mosque is at 318 W. Sixth Ave, in Escondido, California, 30 miles (48 km) north of downtown San Diego; it had been converted from a former church to a mosque.[2][4][5] The fire was extinguished before any major damage to the mosque or injuries occurred.[2][4] Seven people were inside the Islamic center; one of them was awake when the fire started.[6][1][2][3] They smelled smoke, saw the fire and tried to stop it before firefighters arrived.[1][2][3][6] Finally, they managed to put out the fire before it caused any serious damage.[2][3][6] Someone outside the building had noticed the fire and called 9-1-1.[4]

The mosque's CCTV recorded an individual breaking the lock on the mosque's parking lot gate and entering there, before using a flammable liquid to set the mosque on fire.[2] Escondido police lieutenant Chris Lick told the media that no suspect had been determined yet and that it looked like the fire was started by a chemical factor.[1] Police said that they found graffiti referencing the Christchurch, New Zealand mosque incident in the parking lot.[2][3][5]

Fire investigators, the San Diego County Sheriff's Bomb/Arson Unit, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the incident as arson and a hate crime.[3][5] Police officers never reported the exact wording of the graffiti,[1] although it was later revealed to have said, "For Brenton Tarrant -t. /pol/" (references to the Australian-born perpetrator of the shootings and attacks and to 8chan's /pol/ board to which both men belonged).[7]


Yusef Miller, a spokesman for the Islamic community in Escondido, told Muslims who lived in the region to be cautious.[1][6]

Dustin Craun, executive director of the San Diego office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), condemned the attack and asked the police for more security around the mosque and protection at Islamic institutions across California.[3][6] Also, CAIR held online meetings with hundreds of mosques and urged them to increase their security.[4]

A web page was set up on a crowdfunding site for donations to rebuild the mosque. During this campaign, more than 250 supporters donated over $5,000, far short of the ultimate goal of $20,000.[2]

Contemporary attacks and threats[edit]

This incident is one of a series of acts and threats of violence against mosques in March 2019.[4] For example, a man was captured in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 19, 2019, after he made a threatening gesture at a mosque.[4] Another mosque received an anonymous online threat in Howard County, Maryland.[4] Five mosques were attacked in mid-March in Birmingham, one of Britain's largest cities, which has a large Muslim community.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "California mosque fire: police investigate possible arson and hate crime". The Guardian. March 26, 2019. Archived from the original on April 6, 2019. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Johnson, Andrew (March 24, 2019). "Suspect of Possible Arson Attack at Escondido Mosque Leaves Note Referencing New Zealand Terrorist Attacks". nbc sandiego. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Mcallister, Toni (March 24, 2019). "Arson and Hate Crime Suspected in Escondido Mosque Fire". Times Of San Diego. Archived from the original on May 4, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Hauser, Christine (March 26, 2019). "Graffiti Citing New Zealand Attack Is Found After Mosque Fire in California". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 1, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Martinez, Peter (March 24, 2019). "Fire at Southern California mosque investigated as possible arson and hate crime". CBS News. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e Winkley, Lyndsay; Schroeder, Lauryn (March 24, 2019). "Arsonist strikes mosque in Escondido, refers to New Zealand massacre in note". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  7. ^ Miller, Justin (May 9, 2019). "Poway Synagogue Shooting Suspect John T. Earnest Told 911: 'I'm Just Trying to Defend My Nation'". Retrieved May 27, 2019. For Brenton Tarrant -t /pol/ he wrote in the manifesto