Sanford, FL - Authorities shoot and injure a suspect wanted in connection to a grisly murder at a Seminole County mosque.
Reports say investigators tracked Ahmed Raslan to Indian River County on Thursday (March 24) and attempted to arrest him in the parking lot of a Sam’s Club. After refusing to put his hands up, Raslan placed his hand in his pocket and pulled it out as if he were holding a gun, causing the deputies to shoot him three times as he dove into his vehicle.
Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma says Raslan was taken to the hospital to undergo emergency surgery. He currently remains in the hospital, and his condition is unknown. He will face murder charges if he survives.
This all stems from an incident at the Husseini Islamic Center in Sanford. Hours before Raslan was shot, a woman discovered the body of the mosque’s maintenance man when she came into work. Investigators found signs of a struggle and determined that Raslan got in by breaking a window with a propane tank. He stole the victim’s minivan after the murder and fled the scene.
Investigators say Raslan and the victim knew each other, and even said that one of them was even training the other to take over another job. However, there was no formal job transfer between them. It’s also unlikely that this fact could be connected to the motive, especially after a string of strange posts by Raslan that detectives found.
At a press conference, Lemma revealed that Raslan made social media posts claiming he was a descendant of Julius Caesar and he needed to defend Caesar's property—the mosque.
"Clearly this location was targeted," Lemma said. "Not targeted based upon it being a mosque, but because the murderer believed this was Caesar's home."
Since his death, members of the mosque, including its president, have come out to call the victim a hero. Mosque President Mahmood Dhalla called him the “heart and soul” of the mosque.
“He always said, 'I will protect this place with my life,' and I think he did just that," Dhalla said.
The victim in this attack remains unidentified. The two deputies who shot Raslan have been placed on paid administrative leave as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates—which is standard procedure.