A planned mass-shooting at a Florida mosque was aborted with the arrest of a 69-year-old suspect in a sting operation, authorities say.
Bernardino Gawala Bolatete was arrested on Friday after he allegedly took possession of a silencer for a weapon he talked about using in an attack on the
Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, located in Jacksonville.
The arrest came, authorities say, after an undercover officer from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office made secret tape recording during time the two spent time together at shooting ranges in recent weeks.
During the meetings, Bolatete is alleged to have expressed a hatred of Muslims and planned a shooting at the Jacksonville mosque because he was in failing health and intended to commit “suicide by cop,” court documents say.
The suspect owned five rifles, a quantity of ammunition and planned to carry out his attack by climbing a tower at the mosque which he had scouted out, court documents say.
“The investigation confirmed the suspect was planning on carrying out a mass shooting and he already had the weaponry necessary to carry out the attack,” Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams told WJXT-TV.
Bolatete had been a range master at a gun range in the Philippines where he lost a kidney after being accidentally shot in the back several years ago, the public documents say. His remaining kidney was functioning at only 31 percent and he faced dialysis treatments, they documents disclose.
When the undercover officer asked Bolatete if he was going to carry out the mass shooting by himself, charging documents say he responded: “I'll do ... I'll do that, uh, the doctor would say that I have to undergo dialysis so, oh well. Not much to say.”
The suspect remains in custody on a federal charge of knowingly receiving and possessing a silencer.