Hatewatch

Alleged Florida Mosque Bomber Shot Dead by Authorities

The man wanted for the bombing of a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque almost a year ago was shot and killed Wednesday at an Oklahoma campsite after he drew a weapon on federal and state law enforcement officials who were trying to arrest him.

Sandlin Matthews Smith, 46, was charged with setting off a pipe bomb at the rear entrance of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida on May 10, 2010. No one was injured in the bombing, which was the first of a series of incidents that signaled a renewed wave of Islamophobia, the first since shortly after 9/11.

Surveillance videotape from the mosque showed a white man setting the bomb, but not clearly enough to easily identify him. The FBI received information from an unknown person identifying Smith just late last month.

FBI agents were tipped off to the man’s location in a tent at Glass Mountain State Park in northwest Oklahoma late Tuesday. FBI agents and other law enforcement officers blocked off the area overnight and then approached the man around midday on Wednesday. Officials said he drew a weapon when they asked him to surrender and he was shot and killed.

In an affidavit, an FBI agent describes how Smith’s marriage was falling apart, and how he allegedly told people close that he was angry at Muslims. “The reason he bombed the mosque was because he was angry about our men going overseas, fighting and dying,” the affidavit said. It also described how Smith had recently told other friends that he had bombed the mosque and that the “feds” were after him. He threatened one person with a gun, but then relented and began to cry.

The affidavit also described how Smith’s troubles began when he fell out of a tree in November 2009 and broke both legs. He was given methadone and other painkillers and began to act strangely, his wife told the FBI. In late April 2010, he and his wife had an argument and he left the house, moving from the Jacksonville area to St. Johns, Fla. He left that dwelling in recent days.