RICHMOND, Calif. – A 55-year-old man was arrested early Sunday in threats against Muslims. At 6:05 p.m. the Walnut Creek police bomb squad safely detonated an explosive device the suspect had apparently made at his house in the San Francisco Bay Area, after homicide detectives in Richmond received a tip last Thursday that the man was planning to harm local Muslim community members, as reported by the Contra Costa Times.
The Richmond police SWAT team alongside detectives served a search warrant at the man’s house and destroyed the explosive device after evacuating nearby residents on Sunday around 2 p.m. The suspect was identified on Monday as a self-employed plumber called William Celli, who lives in the 5100 block of Mcbryde Avenue. Police Lt. Felix Tan said residents had been told it was already safe to go back home once authorities had secured the area.
The first warning police in California received about Celli came more than two weeks ago, as one his Facebook friends, Maria DiLoreto Banks, raised the alarm about anti-Islamic postings Celli had uploaded, including a picture of his homemade explosive device. Banks took a screen grab of the hateful postings as she found them in her news feed and provided the information to the police, according to The Guardian, which also received Banks’ images.
Celli often showed support for Donald Trump and his anti-Muslim ideas on social media:
“Donald trumps on again I’m happy leaders okay but this guys a great point man I’ll follow this MAN to the end of the world,” he posted on October 21.
One of Celli’s postings was about a claim that members of his local mosque, Masjid al Rahman, celebrated the Paris attacks. Another included suggestions that all Muslims living in America should be deported to their home countries.
Celli shared the picture of his pipe bomb on Dec. 4, the same day he threatened to kill congregants outside his local mosque. Members of Richmond mosque, also known as the Islamic Society of West Costa County, reported to police that a man had yelled threats against them after a Friday afternoon service.
Celli was standing on a Burger King parking lot across the street, screaming: “I’m going to kill you all”, as told to The Guardian by Abdur Rahman, a member of the mosque. He affirmed that the man didn’t have the appearance of a crazy person but that he was agitated and filming a video as the congregants were leaving the place. Celli stayed there for about 10 minutes and told another congregant that he would come back. Three hours later police arrived at the mosque and took a report.
Across the other side of the country, in Connecticut, Banks started to worry about Celli’s attitude and two days later she gave the information to her local police station in Wethersfield.
“I know Billy, but I haven’t seen him in a while and I didn’t feel comfortable because God forbid something happened and I didn’t do anything about it,” she expressed.
Source: The Guardian