Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night Clear
News >  Nation/World

Islamic group: Muslim man beaten outside Omar Mateen’s mosque

Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Authorities said they have arrested a suspect connected to the early Saturday beating of a man outside a Florida mosque that Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen had attended. An Islamic group said the victim was a Muslim.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said racial slurs were made by the attacker, though authorities said they had no immediate indication of any racially motivated comments. Authorities said, however, that they were continuing to investigate.

St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara said deputies were called to the Fort Pierce Islamic Center at 4:11 a.m. Saturday by a caller who said someone was attempting to burglarize a vehicle. His statement said deputies found a man bleeding from the mouth who said he was approached by a man who “asked him what he was doing and then punched him several times in the face and head.”

Mascara added that the man left, but an officer’s traffic stop minutes later halted a vehicle and the victim subsequently “positively identified the driver as the man who attacked him.”

The sheriff’s statement said a suspect identified as Taylor Anthony Mazzanti, 25, was arrested and has been charged with felony battery.

Mascara didn’t identify the victim but said he was treated for injuries at a medical center and released.

The council, or CAIR, issued a statement earlier that a white truck stopped at the mosque early Saturday and that a man had made slurs, saying “You Muslims need to get back to your country.”

Mateen’s father is among the roughly 100 who attend the mosque. CAIR spokesman Wilfredo Amr Ruiz said Omar Mateen sometimes attended Friday prayers but didn’t socialize with others.

Mascara said there was no initial indication of any such statements, though he said more interviews would be conducted in the investigation. The sheriff’s statement also reported no possible motive or any apparent link to the mosque or those attending it.

CAIR identified a witness to the beating: Abdul Rauf Khan, 43.

Reached by phone, Khan said he was driving from his home in Boca Raton when it was nearing time for morning prayers around 4 a.m. Saturday. He stopped at the mosque and saw the victim in the parking lot struggling to enter his car after locking the keys inside. He said a man approached, began punching the victim in the face and knocked out one of the man’s teeth.

“He just start throwing punches and saying all kinds of foul language,” said Khan.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.