UPDATE: Cody Crawford has publicly denied any involvement in this fire. See "Man denies firebombing Corvallis mosque."
PORTLAND, Ore. - Police have searched the home of a person of interest in the suspected arson of a Corvallis mosque, the Willamette Week reported Friday evening.
The Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center was occasionally attended by 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud, the man police allege plotted to blow up a van during a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Pioneer Courthouse Square a week ago.
Police say they believe the attack on the mosque was in retaliation for the plot and that someone broke an office window at the mosque and threw a container of flammable liquid inside.
Police searched the home of 24-year-old Cody S. Crawford on Tuesday, Nov. 30, according to Willamette Week. Crawford lives at the house with his mother on Northwest Polk Avenue, which is about 200 feet from the mosque.
According to a search warrant affidavit, police seized computers, cameras, a Bic lighter, empty propane bottles and other items. They also took DNA swabs from Crawford.
Police said they found an empty two-liter Fanta bottle at the mosque and it contained a liquid that smelled like gasoline; however, it was a blue Maglite pen light found in front of the mosque that led police to Crawford, the Willamette Week reported.
In the affidavit, police said they spoke to Crawford on the day of the fire while they were in the neighborhood. They said he knew nothing about the fire but volunteered that his flashlight had been stolen the night before. Crawford’s description of the flashlight was the same as the one police found.
Additionally, according to the Willamette Week’s reporting on the affidavit, Crawford’s house is made of red bricks and an identical brick was found in the broken glass at the mosque.
The affidavit says an officer asked Crawford why someone might burn the mosque. "Because they don't like Muslims," he's quoted as saying.
Court documents show Crawford's arrest record includes accusations of criminal mischief, assault and spitting food and throwing urine at a deputy while in jail.
When police followed up a few hours later, they reported that Crawford smelled of alcohol, denied he'd been drinking but later admitted to having one beer that evening.
A neighbor of Crawford, Muhammad Alferhan, said Cody knew he was Muslim but never made any derogatory remarks about Alferhan's faith.
"We're still going to give him respect because he's still in the neighborhood, still in his house," Alferhan, who worships at the mosque that was firebombed, told the AP.
According to the affidavit, Crawford sometimes mowed Alferhan's lawn.
Crawford also mowed the lawn of another neighbor, Darla Saling.
"He just doesn't seem like the type" to burn a mosque, she said. "He doesn't seem angry about anything or have an ax to grind."
She said Crawford has a preschool-age son she would see playing in the yard.
Crawford has not been arrested. According to Willamette Week, U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton declined to say why.
Jonathan Cooper of The Associated Press contributed to this report.