Jury convicts suspect of firearms count in mosque shooting plan

A federal jury in Florida has convicted a 69-year-old man of a firearms charge related to his plan to shoot up a mosque because of his expressed hatred for Muslims.

Bernardino Gawala Bolatete, who believed he was terminally ill with a kidney condition, discussed gaining access to a tower at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, located on St. Johns Bluff Road South in Jacksonville.

He discussed what he described as an act of “Christian terrorism” late last year with a man who turned out to be an undercover police officer.

On a secretly recorded conversation, Bolatete said he intended to “go up the tower and start shooting” during worship services at the mosque.

“It will be … great, right?” Bolatete is heard telling the undercover officer on the tape.

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, court documents say.

His remaining kidney was functioning at only 31 percent and he faced dialysis treatments. Because of his failing health, the court documents say Bolatete intended to carry out the mosque attack and commit “suicide by cop.”

While discussing those plans, Bolatete decided to buy a silencer to use on one of 11 firearms he possessed, and it was that illegal purchase that led to his arrest early last December.

He could face up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in July in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville.

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