A 23-year-old Palm Desert man who threw a Molotov cocktail into a Coachella Valley mosque, igniting a fire, was sentenced Monday to six years in state prison.
Carl James Dial pleaded guilty last month to arson and sentence-enhancing allegations of using an explosive device and committing a hate crime, according to court records. In exchange for his admissions, prosecutors dropped charges of felony burglary and misdemeanor criminal damage.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge James Hawkins certified the terms
of the plea deal and imposed the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense.
Dial has been in custody in lieu of $150,000 bail since being arrested Dec. 11 in the 700 block of Country Club Drive in Palm Desert, hours after the firebombing of the Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley, located in Coachella.
A ``Molotov cocktail-like device'' was thrown into the reception area of the 1,800-square-foot Islamic Society mosque at 84650 Avenue 49, at 12:09 p.m.
Cal Fire Riverside crews contained the flames to the lobby area at 12:46 p.m., but there was smoke damage throughout the mosque. No injuries were reported.
The firebombing came nine days after a radicalized couple from Redlands killed 14 people and injured 22 others during a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.
Dozens of threats, harassment and vandalism were reported at mosques nationwide after Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his 27-year-old wife, Tashfeen Malik, carried out their Dec. 2 attack and were killed in a shootout with officers.
Dial has no record of prior felony convictions in California.
Riverside County prosecutors filed criminal charges Wednesday against a 23-year-old Palm Desert man who allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail into a mosque in Coachella.
Carl James Dial is scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m Wednesday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio on charges of arson of a structure, burglary and committing a hate crime, according to John Hall of the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.
On Saturday, Riverside County Jail records showed that Dial was booked into the Indio jail at 1:46 a.m for several felony charges including arson and a hate crime. Bail was set at $150,000.
Update Friday at 11 p.m.:
The Riverside County Sheriff's Department says a person of interest is being held Friday night after the Mosque fire in Coachella. The Sheriff's Department says the person was identified quickly this afternoon and detained pending further investigation. Officials believe this was an "intentional act" that may have caused a potential hate crime.
Update Friday at 6:30 p.m.:
The Riverside County Sheriff's Department calls Mosque fire "an intentional act" and promises that all resources will be used to catch the person responsible.
Calfire and the ATF are assisting in the investigation. Riverside County Sheriff's Department is asking for the public's help if you have any information about this incident.
Firefighters have contained a fire that ignited just after 12 p.m. at the Islamic Society of Palm Springs, located at 84650 Avenue 49, in Coachella.
Smoke and flames were seen coming from the mosque at about 12:10 p.m. Cal Fire responded and was able to extinguish the flames in about 35 minutes.
"I turned that corner to show up to work, and if you work a mosque I’m sure you can imagine, you know this kind of thing is in the back of your mind. I pull up to the intersection I turn left and there’s a huge plume of smoke like a mushroom cloud,” said Ray Brewster who does armed security for the Islamic Center.
News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 confirmed with officials at the mosque that somebody 'fire-bombed' the building around noon. No injuries have been reported at this time and there's no word on the suspect's description.
We're on scene working to get more information as the Riverside County Sheriff's Department investigates.
A group of Muslims gathered in front of the mosque in prayer shortly after the fire was contained Friday afternoon.
Congressman Raul Ruiz issued the following statement regarding the arson:
"I am deeply concerned about the Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley Mosque going up in flames. I call for a thorough investigation to this arson as a possible hate crime and to bring the perpetrators to justice. I will continue to closely monitor the fire, the possible criminal investigation, and the safety of the members of the mosque. Our faith in humanity will not be intimidated and we stand together against any form violence towards the innocent."