The Harris County District Attorney's Office claims the man charged with setting fire to a southeast Houston Islamic community center told a witness he "hated Muslims" sometime after starting the blaze.
Darryl D. Ferguson, 55, was arrested late Monday and charged with felony first degree arson in the torching of the Quba Islamic Institute last Friday. The fire ripped through the vacant building, which had recently been bought by the Institute with plans of turning it into a community center (luckily, no injuries were reported).
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Houston Fire Department investigators had been looking for Ferguson Monday night as a possible suspect, according to the Chron. While searching the area around the Islamic center, Ferguson reportedly rolled up on his bicycle, spoke with investigators, and "made an admission," HFD arson investigator Ruben Hernandez told the daily.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson laid out some of the evidence against Ferguson at his probable cause hearing yesterday, saying, "He told a nearby convenience store clerk that he hated Muslims, they got what they deserved, and things happen for a reason."
Officials have called Ferguson a "transient" who had been staying in the area around the Islamic center. Ferguson has an incredibly lengthy criminal history in Harris County stretching back decades, with multiple drug, prostitution, and DWI arrests - he was most recently sentenced to two years in prison for credit card abuse. In most of his cases, Ferguson lists a Pearland self-storage business as his home address.
Despite his alleged statements to a nearby witness, authorities have yet to charge Ferguson with a hate crime. As he was being led away in handcuffs yesterday, Ferguson told reporters the fire was an accident and that he was just trying to keep warm, according to KPRC.