Filipino-American planned mass shooting at Florida Islamic centre

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Bernardino Gawala Bolatete at a rifle range. Picture from his Facebook page

A 69-year-old Filipino-American has been arrested for allegedly planning a mass shooting at a Florida Islamic centre.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams announced yesterday (Tuesday, December 5) that Bernardino Gawala Bolatete was nabbed after he tried to buy a gun silencer from an undercover cop.

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Police starting investigating Bolatete after a tip-off in October that he was planning a killing spree at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida.

An agent then contacted him and offered to sell him a silencer for $100. During their recorded conversations, Bolatete revealed his plans for the shooting.

During the investigation, Bolatate made several visits to a shooting range with the undercover cop, posting pictures of the trips on his Facebook page.

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It is alleged that he frequently expressed his hatred for Muslims and outlined his plans for a killing spree.

The permanent resident of the United States, originally from from Tagbilaran City, was arrested at his home on Friday after taking possession of the silencer.

Sheriff Williams said: “The investigation confirmed the suspect was planning on carrying out a mass shooting and he already had the weaponry necessary to carry out the attack.”

Bolatete allegedly told the officer that he was a “range master” in the Philippines. He also claimed that he was once  involved in a deadly gunfight over a parking space. He described how the other man, who he said was a police officer, died, while he was shot in the kidney.

His planned shooting spree, he told the officer, involved climbing the mosque’s minaret with five rifles and shooting until he himself was killed.

The criminal complaint against him records him saying: “I just want to give these freaking people a taste of their own medicine, you know? They are the ones who are always doing these shootings, the killings.

“So we’ll try … we will try a Christian doing uh, terroristic [sic] act this time, hum, to the Muslims the, they [laughing] they doing it all the time. You know?”

Sheriff Williams said Bolatete had already gathered the weaponry for the attack.

Bolatete is now being held by the FBI and investigations are continuing.

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