A shot was fired at the dome of an Orland Park mosque Tuesday during an early morning prayer service, police said.
No one among the roughly 40 people in the Prayer Center of Orland Park were injured when a single bullet struck the gold metal dome shortly after 6 a.m. during prayer , said Orland Park police Lt. Tony Farrell.
The incident stunned mosque officials.
“I have a hard time believing anyone would hurt people coming to pray to God, to pray for peace, but at the same time, it seems like that might have happened,” said Nazir Chahin, the Prayer Center of Orland Park’s imam who was leading the morning prayers.
At 6:05 a.m., police were called to the mosque at 16530 104th Ave. to investigate reports of a shot fired, Farrell said. One person standing outside the mosque heard a loud bang, while people attending the service inside also heard a loud noise and noticed bits of plaster or drywall had fallen to the floor, he said.
There were two small holes in the dome that police “assume were caused by a bullet, but we can’t say what kind,” Farrell said.
So far, there are no indications why the mosque was shot, said Farrell, who speculated that it could have been a stray bullet fired accidentally or by a hunter because the mosque is near a wooded area.
Mosque officials, though, feared they were targeted. The Prayer Center of Orland Park has received hate mail and been hit by paint balls before, but this morning’s incident was more worrying, Chahin said. Many people who’d come to pray were afraid to leave, he said.
Badie Ali, a member of the mosque’s executive board, said he would be nervous the next time he sent his children to the mosque’s youth programs.
“It’s an act of terrorism on our community,” he said.
But no other prayer services or programs were disrupted, Ali said. Mansoor Mozaffer, who came to the mosque for evening prayers shortly after 7 p.m., said he wasn’t nervous.
“We trust our law enforcement,” Mozaffer said. “If anything, I wish the fellow had come inside and that might have benefited him, if he had actually talked to us.”
Both Ali and Chahin praised the police response and said the events would make the community stronger.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by phone calls from our community and from other religious groups offering their support,” Chahin said. “If anything, it’s brought us closer.”
The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for a hate-crime investigation.
“Incidents such as this have a chilling effect on worshippers. No one should have to go to their place of worship worried if they’ll make it back home alive,” Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in the statement.