INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The suspect in a Seminole County murder at an Islamic center who Indian River County sheriff’s deputies shot dead Thursday in the parking lot of Sam’s Club has been arrested on a Seminole County murder warrant.
Recent bookings at the St. Lucie County jail show Ahmed Raslan, 38, was arrested just before 4 a.m. Friday
He was rushed to HCA Florida Lawnwood Hospital in Fort Pierce Thursday for surgery after three shots by deputies hit him in the abdomen and chest, Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers said.
As of Friday, he was stable in the hospital and may need additional surgeries, Indian River County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Debbie Carson said. She said he was arrested at the hospital and detectives there are still trying to speak to him.
While the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into the death, Indian River County detectives are still working to determine the level of local involvement in the case, Carson said.
What happened at the Husseini Islamic Center
The circumstances surrounding the deadly attack on the Husseini Islamic Center in Seminole County near Sanford changed late Thursday from earlier in the day with new information from investigators there.
Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said the attacker “may have been mentally deranged and believed exactly what he was doing,” he told WFTV-9, an ABC-affiliated Orlando television network. The newscast is on the sheriff’s website and readers are referred to it as his public briefing.
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He said on the sheriff’s office Facebook page that investigators found that Raslan had made irrational statements online, believing the mosque to be his residence.
WFTV-9 said the sheriff reported the attack was not random, as he said earlier in the day, and that Raslan chose the mosque because he thought he was a descendant of Julius Caesar, the building belonged to Caesar and he is there to defend it.
He fatally assaulted a 59-year-old maintenance worker at the facility and then drove off in the maintenance worker’s vehicle, Lemma said. The maintenance worker was found dead around 8:45 a.m. Thursday.
“We had the license plate because we knew it was the victim’s vehicle,” Lemma said Thursday. “We put that into our technology systems and ended up getting an alert about this license plate in Indian River County.”
Indian River County Sheriff’s deputies made a traffic stop in the parking lot of Sam’s Club, where the deputies shot him after he disobeyed an order and attempted to get into the van.
Lemma initially said the maintenance worker trained the attacker for a couple of weeks and there was friction between them.
Late Thursday, he said the two did not know each other. He said the maintenance man likely arrived at work, noticed the building had been broken into, and encountered Raslan, who is believed to have attacked the maintenance worker with a shovel.
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“And you can imagine for a moment if it weren’t for the heroic efforts of our victim to face that threat, fight there and prevent any of the other people who walked in just minutes later from experiencing one.” would have a similar fate,” said Lemma.
Flowers announced Thursday night that the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office Joint Terrorism Task Force was involved and investigators were working cautiously to dismantle the van, not just for evidence but for any danger posed by a potential explosive device. He said he was briefed on concerns the man had or staged explosives in the van.
Carson said there were no explosives in the van, but she could not say what, if any, weapons were found in the van.
“It’s still a very active investigation,” she said.
The names of the deputies are not published
Carson said the names of the lawmakers involved in the shooting would not be released, citing the Marsy law passed in 2018.
Introduced in memory of a young woman who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, Marsy’s law was created to provide victims of crime with a range of rights, including protecting them and their families from harassment by their attackers .
Some law enforcement officials have interpreted the law as applying to any victim, as well as law enforcement officials who have a right to privacy and protection of their identity.
Will Greenlee is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm. Follow Will on Twitter @OffTheBeatTweet or call him at 772-267-7926. Email him at [email protected]
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