The Dakota County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an allegation that a recent incident at a Muslim cemetery site was bias-motivated.
According to the sheriff’s office, the Farmington Fire Department responded to a smell of gas in a vacant building at 1120 220th St. W in Castle Rock Township at 2 a.m. Monday.
Firefighters located the gas leak and shut off the gas supply to the building.
Later that day, the owner of Al Maghfirah Cemetery reported damage to the building, including to the garage door, a broken window, severed gas lines and severed electrical wires, the sheriff’s office said. The owner also reported that tires were thrown inside the building.
It’s unclear when that happened because the property owner hasn’t been in since Aug. 27, the sheriff’s office said.
The Sheriff’s Office is “investigating an allegation that the act was motivated by bias” and anyone who may have information about the incident is asked to call Detective Fitzgerald at 651-438-4729.
And the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Minnesota (CAIR MN) is asking state and federal law enforcement to investigate the motive for the “arson attempt.”
“An explosion and resulting fire were thankfully averted in what appears to be the latest heinous attack on the Muslim community,” said CAIR MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein. said in a press release on Tuesday. “We call on local, state and federal law enforcement – including the FBI – to investigate a possible bias motive for this failed arson attack on a Muslim institution.”
CAIR MN says more than 30 tires were ‘strategically placed’ inside the building and a ‘large gas pipe’ was cut inside, with the person(s) responsible ‘possibly looking for an explosion and a subsequent fire”.
There was opposition to the Al Maghfirah Cemetery Association‘s proposal to turn the property into a Muslim cemetery.
The association bought the old crèche in 2014 and Castle Rock Township rejected his proposal to turn it into a cemetery, citing the potential loss of “a lot of tax base”, MPR News reported. The association mounted a legal battle and in 2016 a The Dakota County District Judge ruled in favor of the cemeteryclaiming that the township’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious”.
This week’s incident is the second time the cemetery has been vandalized. In 2017, the property was damaged and a message saying ‘Leave, you’re dead’ was spray painted on a wall.
Note: Some of the details provided in this story are based on the latest version of events from law enforcement and may be subject to change.