Just two days after the Nov. 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris, 48-year-old Ted Hakey Jr. fired shots at a mosque in his neighborhood of Meriden, Connecticut, with a high-powered rifle.
Since the targeted site, the Baitul Aman (House of Peace) mosque, was not occupied at the time of the shooting, no one was harmed. The FBI eventually arrested Hakey a month later and charged him with a federal hate crime.
The attack was yet another addition to a long series of incidents exemplifying rising Islamophobia in the United States.
However, on April 2, it turned from a tale of hate to one of peace and harmony.
During a symposium at Baitul Aman by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for their social awareness campaign True Islam, Hakey not only apologized to the people he once intended to harm but also prayed with them.
Ted Hakey, the man who shot up the Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque, apologized for his actions at peace symposium Saturday. pic.twitter.com/uV7Q6aAB6x— Peter Marteka (@petermarteka) April 2, 2016
"I was drinking that night more than I probably should have been," Hakey stated while addressing more than 50 members and guests at the event.
"As a neighbor, I did have fears, but fear is always when you don't know something. The unknown is what you are always afraid of. I wish I had come knocked on your door, and if I spent five minutes with you, it would have made all the difference in the world. And I didn't do that.”
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) was also in attendance.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim community welcomed Hakey and accepted his apology.
“Islam literally means peace and obedience,” Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Public Affairs Director Wajid Ahmed said. “We have True Islam because the extremists' interpretation distorts Islam, giving rise to the need for us to define what true Islam is.”
In addition, the mosque leaders also thanked Meriden Police for their services.
“At the time of the shooting somebody called police,” the community’s president, Mohammed Qureshi, told FOX 61. “They walked in the middle of the night. They walked around the mosque and put themselves in harm's way at that point to protect us.”
The Ahmadiyya Muslim community wanted to offer protection in return, which is why it raised more than $6,000 for the police department to buy 100 life-saving devices to prevent blood clots.