TAMPA, Fla. — One person was shot and killed at the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Mosque overnight during a Ramadan Festival, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
- Fatal shooting at Tampa mosque
- One man killed, one in custody
- Shooting occurred during Ramadan Festival
Witnesses said the two men got into an argument in the parking lot as the festival was wrapping up. Shortly after midnight, an off-duty deputy that was working security for the event heard gun shots coming from the parking lot and saw the crowd scattering near the gate, authorities said.
The deputy found one man holding a gun and another man who had been shot at least two times. The victim was transported to Tampa General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
No other people were hurt.
"The congregation was breaking up, so there's was a lot of foot traffic, a lot of vehicle traffic coming out of this gate that we are standing in right now. So there was a lot of people in the general area," HCSO Deputy Frank Losat said.
Victim, suspect had prior history
Detectives believe the victim and suspect knew each other. Both were attending prayer services at the mosque.
Speaking on behalf of the mosque, Ahmed Bedier of the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay said both men, in fact, were active members.
"It was not biased or hate crime-related, because individuals knew each other and they both happened to be Muslim," Bedier explained. "They both worship and came to worship here as well as other mosques and they both in the past had volunteered their services here at the mosque."
Bedier emphasized that the shooting occurred after hours and neither of the men were acting on behalf of the mosque when the shots were fired. He said the men had a prior history of problems with each other, and those conflicts reached a boiling point Monday morning.
"The individual in question that did the shooting did volunteer in the past in different roles including the safety team," Bedier said. "But when the incident happened he was not on duty, he was not on shift. He was not volunteering, he was actually just going home after services."
Aside from that, Bedier said they knew about as much about the details of the incident as the public. He said they were sad this happened at all, let along at a place of worship during such a holy time.
"It’s concerning that a crime, or not a crime but a shooting happened here at the mosque," he said. "This is a place of worship. This is not a shooting range."
The suspected shooter was taken into custody and is cooperating, authorities said.
No charges have been filed at this time.
The investigation remains ongoing.