WASHINGTON (CN) – A Florida man who called a Miami mosque and threatened to “shoot all y’all,” was sentenced Wednesday to 12 months and one day in prison and three years supervision after release.
Gerald Wallace, a 35-year-old former security guard, pleaded guilty in October to calling the Islamic Center of Greater Miami on Feb. 19, 2017, and threatening to open fire on its congregants.
“I hate you Muslims. You Muslims are terrible. I hate you people,” Wallace said in a recorded message he left at the mosque. “I’m gonna go down to your center. I’m gonna shoot all ya’ll. … I hate your Allah, I hate your Koran, I hate everything about Islam.”
Wallace pleaded guilty to obstructing the mosque’s “free exercise of religious beliefs.”
He faced as much as five years in prison when he appeared before U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke Wednesday afternoon.
Prosecutors said Wallace was arrested on Feb. 27, 2017 after admitting during questioning by FBI agents that he’s had an “absolute hatred” of Muslims since the Sept/ 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Wallace also allegedly told investigators he’d tried to call in threats to several other South Florida mosques.
“Wallace said that he calls and emails these mosques because he hates Muslims and has thought about killing them,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Wallace said in a detention motion. “He believes that all Muslims must leave the United States, whether voluntarily or by force.”
After the defendant was sentenced, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg said “hate crimes violate our country’s most fundamental principles.”
“Wallace was sentenced for depriving the Islamic Center’s congregants of the right to freely exercise their religion,” Greenberg said.
Omar Saleh, attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said attacks on places of worship are “a reality experienced by many faiths,” but in the past year the number of threats and attacks on mosques have increased dramatically.
“CAIR-Florida greatly commends the work by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Florida in taking this matter seriously and acting upon it swiftly,” Saleh said.
He added, “We hope this sentence serves as a deterrent for hateful activity.”