Bernandino Bolatete from Jacksonville, Florida, is facing a federal gun charge after law enforcement officials uncovered his alleged plan to commit mass murder at a mosque by climbing up its tower and opening fire on the congregants.
The 69-year-old, who is originally from the Philippines, first drew local authorities’ attention after someone informed police how Bolatete had expressed “hatred for Muslims” and threatened to “shoot up” the Islamic Center of North East Florida.
It was then an undercover officer approached the self-identified “shooting sports enthusiast” to verify the tip and discovered Bolatete was looking to illegally buy a new suppressor, also known as a silencer, for his AR-15 rifle as his current once was not very “quiet.”
“Altho [sic] the suppressor is not really that ‘quiet’ but it can be used on the 4th of July or New Year time, it can easily blend with the sound of fireworks,” he reportedly texted the officer, who he met several times. “I think that's the right time you can hit that asshole that you have there.”
Since the paperwork associated with acquiring a silencer takes a lot of time and government inquiry, Bolatete wanted to go the easier route and did not want to leave a trail behind, according to the court documents.
He also talked about dying during the attack, referring to it as “suicide by cops.”
“So we’ll try… we will try a Christian doing uh terroristic act this time to the Muslims,” he said. “They doing it all the time.”
The officers raided Bolatete’s home just as he received the new suppressor and found five rifles including one AR-15.
“The investigation confirmed the suspect was planning on carrying out a mass shooting and he already had the weaponry necessary to carry out the attack,” Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams told reporters.
The 69-year-old had also shared a fake news article about Muslims raping a woman and forcing her to recite Quran on his Facebook page.
The story, titled, “EVIL: Radical Muslims Rape, Make Woman Quote Quran, But How They ‘Finish Her Off’ Is the Worst” was published by right wing website Red Flag News, which has reportedly gained fame for circulating debunked or dubious news.
The news comes days after President Donald Trump retweeted a series of baseless Islamophobic videos allegedly showing Muslim migrants assaulting Dutch citizens. At least one of the videos was immediately debunked.
Although the receiving and possessing an illegal firearm is currently the only charge against Bolatete at this point, but he could get up to 10 years in prison for that.
The court documents also showed Bolatete was concerned about his health, as his kidney was barely functioning. He had previously lost his other kidney back in the Philippines after a drunken police officer reportedly shot him in the back during a dispute over a parking spot.
He told the undercover officer he later shot and killed the Filipino officer.
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Rick Wilking