Former US soldier who fought in Iraq drove truck through gates of Florida mosque

Shaun Urwiler [Source: illsborough County Sheriff's Office]

A former US soldier who fought in Iraq drove a truck through the locked gate of a Florida mosque and crashed into parked cars just before iftar.

Shaun Urwiler, 42, broke through the gates of the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Mosque and hit cars while hundreds of worshippers looked from within, according to WFLA.

It was later revealed that Urwiler is an ex-soldier who served in Iraq.

He made national headlines in 2003 when his girlfriend at the time, who was concerned he had died in Iraq, discovered he was alive from a newspaper photograph.

The perpetrator’s brother Neal said the former infantryman had hit “rock bottom” after his experiences as a soldier, and allegedly suffered from “post-traumatic stress disorder”.

He also claimed that his brother had called him just before the mosque attack, telling him he had a dream about Fallujah.

Neal told the press: “I apologise on behalf of my family if anyone was scared.

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“This is not something a sane person would do. He’s not that person and he’s going to get help.”

Urwiler told the police he just wanted to “throw a few donuts and wreak a little havoc”.

Nobody was injured as a result of the attack.

Urwiller drove away from the crime scene immediately after the attack.

He has been charged with criminal mischief and property damage.

Witness and member of the Council for American-Islamic Relation, Aida Mackic said: “We hope that people come inside, ask questions, get to know your Muslim neighbours.”

Gamal Farag, who chased Urwiler after the attack, said: “Like he’s mean. He is [acting] like ‘I am going to do it.’

“What you do this for? What make you do this? I don’t understand. What the reason?

“In my opinion, God will take care of him.”

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