In the wake of recent attacks on places of worship around the country, police in Delaware County, Pennsylvania hope to track down a man who placed hate-filled and threatening signs around a mosque and Islamic learning center before he might escalate to violence.
“I don’t know what the potential of this individual is but he certainly, in my opinion, has some significant mental health issues,” Upper Darby Police Chief Michael Chitwood said. “…The message he’s sending is a strong hatred, violent message.”
The man who is in his 50s or 60s, wore a red aviator-type hat and blue jacket with a “NASA” patch, as he placed the signs behind the Upper Darby Islamic Center (Masjid Al-Madinah) at South 69th and Walnut streets in Upper Darby on Monday, police said.
Surveillance video — time stamped between 5:10 and 5:15 a.m. — captured the man carrying the signs over this shoulder as he walked around the mosque, leaving some in certain locations before walking away.
The signs, one with a skull on the back, accused Muslims of killing people and threatened violence against them. The words on the signs didn’t form complete thoughts and there were several misspelled words.
Police also found some burned items, including what appears to be a Pikachu doll, outside the mosque, Chitwood said.
Mosque leaders said they saw the messages as being “terroristic.”
Chitwood called the suspect disturbed and wants to “lock up” the man before he could follow through with any possible threats of violence.
“Obviously, this guy we’re dealing with doesn’t have a straight deck, that’s for sure,” Chitwood said. “The potential for any type of harm to anybody we have to stop before it starts.
“I don’t care if he has some mental health issues or not,” Chitwood said.
Police only released the video after efforts through are social service agencies didn’t lead investigators to the suspect, Chitwood said.