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Reward increased to $50,000 - KOAM TV 7

Reward increased to $50,000 for info related to Islamic Center of Joplin fire

Updated September 19, 2012 - news release from the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

JOPLIN, Mo. -- The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), announced today a reward of $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for a fire at the Islamic Center of Joplin on July 4, 2012.  This is an increase from the original reward of $15,000 announced on July 16.  The combined $50,000 reward is comprised of $40,000 from the FBI and $10,000 from the ATF. 

On the morning of July 4, at approximately 3:30 a.m., an arson fire occurred on the roof of the Islamic Center of Joplin.  The fire was contained to the surface of the roof and did not penetrate the building.  A review of surveillance video showed an unidentified white male walk up to the building and throw an ignited object onto the roof. 

The reward was increased to place a greater emphasis on the assistance needed by the public.   Something that may seem insignificant to an individual can be very significant to an ongoing investigation.  Anyone with information should contact the FBI Joplin Field Office 417-206-5700; ATF 1-888-ATF-FIRE or 417-837-2100; Jasper County Sherriff's Office 417-358-8177 or the Missouri Arson Hotline at 1-800-392-7766.

The ongoing criminal investigation is being conducted by the FBI, the ATF, the Missouri Division of Fire Safety's Office and the Jasper County Sheriff's Department.  Surveillance video, press releases and enhanced images of the suspect from the July 4 fire are available at <http://www.fbi.gov/kansascity>.

In addition, during the early morning hours of Aug. 6, another fire occurred at the Islamic Center of Joplin.  The center, which was unoccupied at the time, sustained a total loss.   Although the cause of the fire on Aug. 6 remains undetermined, significant law enforcement resources are being utilized in furtherance of the investigation into the July 4 and the Aug. 6 incidents.  Anyone with information about the Aug. 6 fires should contact law enforcement at the numbers above.     

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Updated July 16, 2012 - news release from the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

EricK. Jackson, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation (FBI) Kansas City Division, announced today a combined reward of$15,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person or persons responsible for the recent fire at the Islamic Center of Joplin.  The combined $15,000 reward is comprised of$10,000 from the FBI and $5,000 from the ATF.

On the morning of July 4, 2012 at approximately 3:30 a.m., reports were received regarding a fire on the roof of the Islamic Center of Joplin.  The fire, which was extinguished by the JasperCounty Fire Department, was a surface fire, contained on the roof of the building, not penetrating the building or causing any interior damage.  

Are view of the surveillance video showed an unidentified white male walking up to the building and throwing an ignited object onto the roof.  Below is a full face image, taken from the surveillance video, of the individual who threw the object onto the roof of the building.  

Federal law criminalizes arson and vandalism against houses of worship committed either because of the race or ethnicity of the group using the property or, in certain circumstances, because of the religious nature of the property.

This case is being investigated by the FBI, the Jasper County Sheriff's Office, theATF and the Missouri Division of Fire Safety. 

# # #

Updated July 6, 2012:  The FBI, ATF and Jasper County Sheriff's Department are asking for your help in identifying an arson suspect caught on tape.

Still images from security cameras at the Islamic Society of Joplin show the man officials say started a fire there.

The Society has several security cameras including one directly below the part of the roof that burned early Wednesday morning.

Carl Junction Fire Chief Bill Dunn says it was clearly not fireworks that caused the fire, and rolls of paper were found on the roof.

Chief Dunn says the fire marshal contacted the ATF and FBI to investigate the case as a possible hate crime, and he says the video evidence is strong.

"He reached down and he lit that thing and the minute he did it flashed up pretty quick and he grabbed it and heaved it up on the roof  and walked off," says Chief Dunn.

Jasper County Sheriff Archie Dunn says at this time they are not calling it a hate crime.

"We will classify what crime it is once we get a suspect, take them into custody and interview," Sheriff Dunn tells us.  "We aren't going to classify it until we find out what the motive behind the act was.

The FBI has an open case now, first as a Civil Rights violation, but the fire chief says members of the Society say harassment is common.

"Some of the men out there told me people come by yelling, slurring names at them, cussing them," says Chief Bill Dunn.

If you have information on his identity you should contact detective Tim Williams with the Jasper County Sheriff's Office: (417) 358-8177, extension 1223.

This is not the first attack on the center.  In 2008 the sign was set on fire.  That case was never solved.

Posted July 4, 2012:  The Missouri state fire marshal, ATF and the FBI are assisting local law enforcement with in investigation into a fire at the Islamic Society of Joplin center on Black Cat Road.

Carl Junction Fire Department Chief Bill Dunn tells us they were contacted at 3:37 a.m.  He says they were told a passerby called in a fire at the location.

Chief Dunn says there were no injuries but some shingles and a piece of guttering was damaged.

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