SAN ANTONIO – Sunday marks a year since the Victoria Islamic Center burned to the ground. The man charged with destroying the mosque on Jan. 28, 2017 is 26-year-old Victoria resident Marq Vincent Perez. Here are some fast facts about Perez’s case.
Authorities alleged Perez believed worshippers at center were terrorists
In March 2017, The Associated Press reported Perez believed its worshippers were terrorists and may have been looking for other mosques to target. The revelation was made during an unrelated hearing against Perez.
An informant told authorities he and Perez had taken part in previous burglaries at the mosque and implicated Perez as the person who set it on fire.
The informant told authorities Perez "hated" Muslims and they were breaking into the mosque to see if its members were hiding weapons there.
Perez discussed mosque on social media
Perez reportedly discussed the mosque in some form on Facebook, according to The AP.
Another informant told authorities that Perez told him "he'd done something in the mosque and soon everyone would know about it.” Authorities said the informant and Perez spoke about the mosque through Facebook messages and Perez indicated he had been watching the mosque and how many people were guarding it.
One of the informants also said Perez believed Muslims were allowed to marry children and the hardest part was getting the town to believe his evidence, authorities said.
Prosecutors said at some point, Perez posted a comment saying, "Can you pinpoint any mosques that a team can get clear to?"
Perez faces multiple charges
Perez was indicted in June and faces multiple charges that include arson, damaging a religious property, which is a hate crime; and possession of an explosive device, a charge unrelated to the mosque's fire.
At a pretrial conference, attorneys said there is vast amount of evidence in the case, which includes 40,000 pages of documents and more than 170 GB of digital material.
Perez’s trial set
Perez’s trial is set for April in Victoria. He has pleaded not guilty. His father has stated he never heard his son make statements about Muslims and they worked together as electricians for up to 60 hours a week. Perez is the only person charged with crimes related to the mosque fire.
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