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Tampa Police Monitor Area Mosques Following Deadly New Zealand Shooting

cair_hassan_shibly.jpg
Julio Ochoa/WUSF

Tampa area Muslims are mourning the deaths of at least 49 people in attacks on a pair of mosques in New Zealand Friday.

Hassan Shibly, attorney and chief executive director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Tampa, took to social media early Friday morning to share his thoughts.

“God protect our community and all humanity,” Shibly wrote in one tweet, followed by others calling out U.S. President Donald Trump for inspiring “such hate with his comments” about Islam and asking for armed security at mosques for Friday prayers.

The gunman as well as two other suspects are in police custody, according to news reports about the shooting. 

“As the details of the story continue to develop, we urge all of our community members to be vigilant, especially while attending Friday prayers and for our mosques and center to take increased security precautions,” he wrote on Facebook.

Hassan Shibly, of CAIR, responds on Facebook to the mass shooting in New Zealand.
Credit Screenshot of public social media post.
Hassan Shibly, of CAIR, responds on Facebook to the mass shooting in New Zealand.

The social media comments are public.

A spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office issued this statement Friday via email:

“We always have a thorough and robust security plan in place to protect all of our religious institutions,” the statement read, “We don't reveal those security plans for operational reasons. We are aware of the incident in New Zealand and are monitoring it closely."

Tampa Police Department spokesman Stephen Hagerty said city law enforcement has not found evidence of a local threat. He said officers were doing 'spot checks' at mosques and other religious institutions.

Tampa police responded similarly after shootings at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last year.

“Do people have concerns? I think, absolutely,” Hagerty said. “When you see something as horrific as what just happened in New Zealand, I think people are concerned and we immediately respond by doing a threat assessment to see if there’s any chatter out there, if there’s any evidence whatsoever that there’s anything planned here locally. We have have not seen anything like that at all.”

Shibly thanked Florida law enforcement Friday for guarding mosques.

“Encouraging all mosques to have a safety and security plan and training and hire off duty officers for Friday prayers,” he wrote on Instagram.

This is a devleoping story.