Man Arrested After Bringing Gun To Denver Mosque

November 14, 2019
Downtown Denver Islamic CenterDowntown Denver Islamic CenterKevin Beaty/CPR News
Downtown Denver Islamic Center on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019.

Denver police said they have arrested a man who was armed at the Downtown Denver Islamic Center on Thursday evening.

The suspect fled the scene but was arrested nearby, according to division chief Ron Thomas.

Four witnesses associated with the mosque told police they were standing outside the center and saw the man across the street. They said he shouted anti-Muslim comments at them and pointed what looked like a long rifle at them. The man did not fire any shots at them and turned and left the area.

"It’s scary to even think of that incident to happen while the place is full of people," Imam Muhammad Kolila said. "It’s just scary and that’s why we talk to police and ask what can we do? How can we be safe here?"

Imam Muhammad Kolilav prays at the Downtown Denver Islamic Center off Downing Street, in Whittier, after a man arrived at the mosque with a long gun. Nov. 14, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Police have not yet recovered the weapon and believe it is inside a nearby house, where they believe the man went after the incident. They are getting a search warrant to get the weapon, Thomas said.

Officers have increased patrols around Denver mosques out of "an abundance of caution," Thomas said. They are also more closely monitoring other religious spaces going into the holidays.

"Even though we believe this is a completely isolated incident, we are going to step up additional patrols around this mosque and others around the city," he said. "I think that the large majority of society is welcoming and accepting of various cultures and there certainly are individuals who are not and we certainly have to provide safety and security for those populations that are targeted sometimes."

This is the second threat to a religious organization in Colorado in the last two weeks. The FBI foiled another man's plan to bomb a Jewish temple in Pueblo earlier this month.

The suspect has not yet been identified, Thomas said and appears to be under the influence of a stimulant.

This is a developing story and will be updated.