Police have arrested a suspect who allegedly used a permanent marker to vandalize an Islamic Center in Koreatown with hateful comments over the weekend.
The incident occurred around 12:40 a.m. Sunday at the Islamic Center of Southern California, located at 434 S. Vermont Ave., according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The man is accused of writing “anti-Islamic hate words” on the property and then running from the area north on Vermont Avenue.
Police released a surveillance image of the suspect and described him as being around 40 to 50 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 180 pounds. He was wearing a black jacket, a black shirt with an unknown type of design, black pants, black shoes and a black beanie.
On Tuesday morning, Sgt. Heidi Stoecklein of the LAPD confirmed a man had been arrested.
He was later identified as 43-year-old Carlos Moran by LAPD Chief Michel Moore in a Tuesday meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners. As for a motive, Moore said Moran “is suffering from some type of mental health issue.”
Moran was also named in a press release from the LAPD, which added that he was arrested at about 3 a.m. Tuesday morning in the 500 block of Shatto Place while “wearing the same beanie, jacket, pants, and shoes described in the Community Alert.”
Moran, who is homeless, also possessed a Sharpie when police found him, authorities said.
He is being held in lieu of $85,000 bail, $75,000 for a charge of church vandalism with a hate crime enhancement and $10,000 on a misdemeanor warrant for a charge of brandishing a deadly weapon in a fight.
The writing on three pillars was covered up with paper Monday morning and will eventually be painted over.
“This is an appalling act of vandalism targeting the center where innocent individuals gather for their daily religious observances,” a statement from the Islamic Center read.
The incident occurred during Ramadan, one of the holiest months on the Islamic calendar that includes fasting, prayer and reflection.
Omar Ricci, spokesman for the Islamic Center, said the vandalism is an act of hate that has caused pain in the community.
“The attack is not just on this center, or what’s happening in other parts of the world or the country, but it’s an attack on our city as a whole,” Ricci said.
Joumana Silyan-Saba, from the Los Angeles Civil Rights and Equity Department, added that houses of worship are places of sanctity and community.
“Any act of hate directed toward any house of worship has no place in our city,” she said. “It is truly shameful that the Islamic Center was subjected to this hateful act during a holy season for Muslims, Jews and Christians. For this terrible incident to have taken place on Easter Sunday — a time of hope, love and renewal of life — goes against every grain of who we are as a people.”
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Detective Guzman at 213-382-9440.
Nidia Becerra contributed to this report.