SOUTHTOWN STAR:Bullet fired at Orland Park mosque during early morning prayer service

Bullet fired at Orland Park mosque during early morning prayer service

By Jordan Owen Sun-Times Media March 25, 2014 3:40PM

The Prayer Center mosque 16530 104th Ave. OrlPark where bullet was reportedly fired dome during an early-morning prayer service Tuesday

Authorities believe a bullet was fired through the dome of an Orland Park mosque Tuesday morning, damaging the building during a prayer service.

No one was hurt when the single shot was fired through the dome of the Prayer Center of Orland Park a few minutes after 6 a.m. during the Fajr, or break-of-dawn prayer, according to a statement from the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

People inside told police they heard a loud bang and noticed some flakes of drywall had fallen from the ceiling beneath the dome area, Orland Park police Lt. Tony Farrell said.

At the time, about 40 people were in the mosque at 16530 104th Ave., but no one was hurt, according to authorities and CAIR.

Officers found two holes in the ceiling and used an aerial ladder from the fire department to inspect the outside of the dome, where authorities found another small hole, Farrell said.

Authorities are assuming the holes came from a shot fired from a firearm but do not have the capabilities to go into the very high ceiling to recover a possible bullet, he said.

Orland Park police are increasing police patrols near the mosque because of the incident.

“Incidents such as this have a chilling effect on worshippers,” CAIR-Chicago executive director Ahmed Rehab said in the statement.

“No one should have to go to their place of worship worried if they’ll make it back home alive,” Rehab said.

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago also has reached out to the mosque to offer its assistance, it said in a news release.

“Attacks like these are very troubling as they put innocent human lives in danger and disrupt peace and safety in the greater Chicagoland community,” CIOGC spokesman Aymen Abdel Halim said in the release.

As of Tuesday evening, authorites do not know where the shot came from, Farrell said. Anyone with information is asked to contact police at (708) 349-4111.

No bullet or shell casing was found, according to Agnieszka Karoluk, a spokeswoman for CAIR’s Chicago office. Holes in the dome indicated a bullet had been fired, and Imam Nazir Chahin, who was leading the morning prayer, believed the damage was the result of a shot being fired, she said.

The office had asked the FBI to step in and investigate the incident as a hate crime but had not received a response from the bureau as of late Tuesday, Karoluk said. CAIR also asked Orland Park police for increased patrols around the mosque.

The mosque opened in June 2006, about two years after Orland Park officials approved plans for it amid strong protests from residents. The mosque was designed to resemble the Dome of the Rock, a shrine in Jerusalem that is a holy site for Muslims. The Prayer Center’s 15-foot-by-38-foot, 5,600-pound dome was installed in January 2006.

Contributing: Mike Nolan, LeeAnn Shelton