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Man drives truck into Florida mosque

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) -- A man drove his truck into a mosque near Florida State University on Monday night, prompting police to seal off the area and call in a bomb squad.

No one was inside the Islamic Center of Tallahassee at the time, and police say only the driver was injured.

"We believe this was a hate crime," Tallahassee Police Lt. Edward Smith said.

Neighbors called police around 7:30 p.m. after watching the man drive the truck through the front of the building, adjacent to the Florida State campus. The man escaped by breaking out the back window of the truck. Police made an arrest a short time later in a nearby bar.

Smith told CNN that firefighters were concerned about suspicious items found in the truck, including a bottle of liquid marked "holy water."

An armed personnel carrier was used to pull the truck out of the building. Bomb squad members then examined the items and decided to detonate them on the scene using small charges. Smith said the items did not turn out to be explosives or flammable materials. The area was reopened about four hours after the incident.

The suspect, identified as 51-year-old Charles D. Franklin of Tallahassee, was arrested after patrons and staff at a nearby bar called police. Smith said the man was bleeding and telling people in the bar that he had driven into the Islamic Center.

Police say the case will be pursued as a hate crime because of statements Franklin made after he was arrested. Smith said Franklin has been charged with burglary and criminal mischief and has admitted to driving into the building.

Franklin was treated at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and transported to the Leon County Jail. There is no word yet as to how much damage was done to the Islamic Center.



 
 
 
 







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