Shots were fired at a mosque in Melbourne, Florida as worshippers celebrated the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but no injuries or arrests were reported, authorities said Saturday.
A member of the Islamic Society of Brevard County stepped outside of the mosque Friday night to use his cell phone when he heard several gunshots, the Melbourne police department said.
The member, who was not immediately identified, took cover behind a wall as several rounds struck the building’s south side, police said. He then ran inside and told mosque members, who called police.
Authorities searched the surrounding area for suspects but found none. The FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force were helping with the search, police spokeswoman Jill Frederiksen said Saturday.
Police were not releasing many details of the shooting because the investigation was ongoing, Frederiksen said. Detectives were working to determine a motive for the shooting.
Melbourne police have coordinated with the Islamic Society to begin extra patrols around the mosque.
Ibrahim Hooper, national spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that while no motive had been determined by police, the shooting fit a pattern of incidents at mosques this year.
Those include leaving a bullet-riddled Quran outside of a mosque in Chattanooga, Tennessee, vandalism at an Indiana mosque and other incidents against mosques in Maine, Arizona and Maryland.
“Worshippers of the mosque would obviously be disturbed if (religion) was the motive for the attack,” Hooper said Saturday.
The council planned a Saturday news conference to ask authorities to classify the shooting as a hate crime.
Melbourne is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east-southeast of Orlando on the Atlantic coast.