Police: No evidence of hate crime at local mosque
Related: Can of pepper spray found near mosque
By Lucas Sullivan
Monday, September 29, 2008
DAYTON — A 10-year-old girl sprayed in the face with a chemical Friday, Sept. 26, while at a local Islamic mosque was not the victim of a hate crime, police Chief Richard Biehl said.
The girl was watching children whose parents and relatives had gathered at the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, 26 Josie St., to celebrate Ramadan when she noticed two men standing outside a basement window about 9:40 p.m., according to police.
One of the men then sprayed something through the open window and into the girl's face from a white can with a red top, according to a police report. The girl said she immediately felt burning on her face and felt "sick to her stomach," the report stated.
Other children and a woman in the room felt affects from the chemical and the mosque was evacuated.
"The men didn't say anything to her (before she was sprayed)," Biehl said. "There was nothing left at the scene or anything that makes us believe this is a biased crime."
HAZMAT crews called to the scene started testing for chemicals less than 20 minutes after a member of the mosque called 911, team coordinator Denny Bristow said.
"Whatever chemical was released it dissipated too quickly for us to determine what it was," Bristow said. "We can test for about 130 to 140 chemicals, including pepper spray, and all our tests came back negative."
Bristow said there were no chemicals found on the 10-year-old girl.
A few of the 300 people celebrating the last 10 days of Ramadan with dinner and a prayer session were treated for eye irritation at the scene.
Mosque board member Tarek Sabagh said many people within the mosque speculated that the incident was the result of a DVD about Islamic radicalism titled "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" that was mailed to area homes by its producers and circulated as a paid advertisement with more than 70 newspapers, including the Dayton Daily News.
"We are not linking the two at all," Sabagh said.
Biehl said the incident will be assigned to a detective today, Sept. 30, since it happened over the weekend. The detective will determine if a crime was committed. The police report of the incident was filed Monday afternoon. He said a detective was at the scene Friday.
Normal prayer services were held at the mosque through the weekend and on Monday, Sabagh said. The 10-year-old girl and the woman who was in the room with her have returned to the mosque, he said.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. During the month, Muslims fast (do not eat) from sunrise to sunset. In the evening and in the morning before the sun comes up, they eat small meals. During this month, they take extra time for family, inner reflection, and spiritual growth.
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2494 or lsullivan@DaytonDailyNews.com
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