Vandals set fire at Florida church, spray-paint ‘Allahu Akbar’

A possible hate crime is under investigation after a fire was set at a Central Florida church, where vandals also spray-painted “Allahu Akbar.”

The incident happened around 3 a.m. Monday at the New Shiloh Christian Church in Melbourne on Sarno Road. About 1,500 members attend the church.

Melbourne police said officers and firefighters discovered the blaze after a fire alarm sounded. Arson was the expected cause, police said.

Fire sprinklers helped contain the flames to a storage unit connected to the 125,000-square-foot building.

The words “Allahu Akbar” were spray-painted on the storage unit. “Allahu Akbar” is an Arabic phrase typically translated as “God is great” and is a common expression used in various contexts.

….”To find something like that in 2015 is unbelievable. It’s just disheartening,” said New Shiloh Christian Church Bishop Jacquelyn Gordon. “They told us that this is definitely a hate crime and that they’re going to patrol our area even more and just look out for us and they thought it was senseless and I feel the same way.”

Police have not confirmed to Local 6[WKMG] that the case is being investigated as a hate crime, but say they are investigating the fire and vandalism as arson and criminal mischief.

“I would just say that everything is being looked at. All avenues are going to be explored. If it meets that criteria, that would be something that would be looked at,” said Lt. Cheryl Trainer.

Police told Local 6 they are hesitant to label the case as a hate crime because they don’t want to alarm the public. They said they will determine if the graffiti was done at the same time as the vandalism and arson to determine if it is, in fact, a hate crime. At this time they are calling it arson and criminal mischief….

By Daniel Dahm – –

Penn Station fire suspicious

150 firefighters have responded to an early morning fire near Penn Station which is affecting subway and rail service in the area.

Authorities say A, E and C trains are back to normal but are slowing down on approach to Penn Station.

Long Island Rail Road service is also impacted. Trains are being diverted to Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn or Hunterspoint Avenue in Queens. Some trains are cancelled at Jamaica Terminal in Queens.

NYC Transit is cross-honoring LIRR fares on the 2, 3, 7 and E lines. Commuters should anticipate delays on all westbound trains.

Fire officials say the 3-alarm fire appears to be suspicious. Flames broke out at 2:20 A.M. Tuesday in an underground construction site at 34th Street and Eighth Avenue. They say it was nearly under control around 5 a.m.

A fire department spokesman says firefighters are still at the scene monitoring and extinguishing pockets of fire….

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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