Fires at 2 Minneapolis mosques under investigation
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - As firefighters were knocking down a fire at a Minneapolis mosque Monday night, police were asking for the public's help as they investigate a separate fire at another mosque the day before.
Crews were called out to the Masjid Al Rahma off Bloomington Avenue around 7 p.m. Monday night for the fire. At the mosques, crews knocked down a small fire in a room on the third floor. People on the second floor needed to be evacuated from the building as crews worked.
The fire did not spread to the structure. That fire is currently under investigation.
As crews were battling that fire Monday night, Minneapolis police announced they were looking to question a man connected to a separate mosque fire on Sunday.
In the Sunday fire, crews responded to the Masjid Omar Islamic Center off East 24th Street for the report of a fire set. When firefighters arrived, they found a small fire in the mosque's bathroom had been put out before crews arrived.
In a Facebook post, officers released photos of the person suspected of setting the fire. Police are asking anyone with information on the person's identity to call 911.
That person is also suspected of causing previous damage to the mosque.
The two mosques are both located in the Phillips neighborhood, about a block apart. However, it's important to note that the cause of Monday's fire is not yet known.
"We do not know for sure if Monday’s fire was arson or if both fires are related. However, due to the totality of the circumstances, we will investigate these fires as if they are connected until proven otherwise," said Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara said in a statement Tuesday.
"I have ordered additional patrols and additional law enforcement resources, some of which will be visible and some of which are not. We will work with our law enforcement and community partners to do everything possible to keep all people safe and free to exercise their Constitutional right to freedom of religion," he added.
The FBI and ATF responded to the fire on Monday evening to assist with the investigation, which is still ongoing.