Man, 37, charged with arson in southwest Houston mosque fire

Tom Abrahams Image
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Man arrested for arson in mosque fire
Man arrested for arson in SW Houston mosque fire.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Gary Nathaniel Moore, who investigators say also used the name "Jamal" Moore, now faces a charge of arson for setting fire to a southwest Houston mosque on Christmas day.

"There's no motive that's clear to us right now. Nothing's been revealed," said the Houston Fire Department's chief arson investigator. "He was a member of that mosque. He was there for several years."

Moore spoke to investigators the day of the fire. He admitted to being there before the flames sparked, but has not admitted guilt.

At his nearby home, nobody answered the door when we knocked. But a neighbor told us what he saw at Moore's home on Tuesday night just before the arrest.

"There were at least 40 or 50 police covering his whole yard," said Jawan Moore (no relation), who lives on the same street. "All white cars up and down the street. None of them marked cars."

Charging documents reveal arson investigators found matching cans of charcoal lighter fluid at the mosque and at Moore's house. They would not talk about additional evidence at a press conference with elected leaders and the ATF Wednesday afternoon.

"We view arson as a violent crime," said the ATF's Special Agent In Charge in Houston, Robert Elder. " It is a crime that is not only an attack on a building. It's an attack on the community."

Despite the suspect being of the Muslim faith, some are still calling for an increased police presence at the city's dozens of mosques.

"I think we need some protection from HPD," said Manzoor Memon, who attended the press conference. "We ask the police officers that while they are doing their paperwork they should hide themselves close to the mosque."

As for Moore, the lack of motive is what is most puzzling for those in the Muslim community.

"We're really concerned about what could have, what is his issue?" asked Mustafa Carroll with the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "What could have caused him to do something like this?"

Moore is in jail on a $100,000 bond.