No one was hurt when gunfire struck a mosque in the desert city of Coachella before dawn Tuesday, an incident that authorities are investigating as a possible hate crime.
Six bullets were fired around 5 a.m. at the Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley, approximately 25 miles southeast of Palm Springs. Three bullets struck a car out front, two hit the building and one lodged into a wrought iron fence. Nobody was injured.
The shooting was being investigated as a possible hate crime, a Sheriff's Department statement said.
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"I know we've been getting a lot of bad press lately around the world but that is really and truly not what Islam is," mosque president Reymundo Nur said.
A regional office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement calling for an FBI investigation.
"Any time shots are fired at a house of worship, the FBI should offer its resources to local authorities to help determine whether or not there was a bias motive for the attack,'' CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said.
The shooting is under review, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
"The fact that this is a place of worship, we would reach out to determine if investigation is warranted at the federal level,'' she said.
Sheriff’s officials told NBC4 that the Anti-Defamation League has also been notified.
"We are concerned about our security and our safety," mosque member Salah Salah said.
The mosque has been at the Coachella Valley location for 16 years. One member told NBC4 that someone had left a message a few months ago, one that could be taken as a veiled threat.
"Say something about Islam and he say he was going to do something," the mosque member, who didn’t want to be identified, said.
Last month in New Mexico, someone hurled a Molotov cocktail at the wall of an unoccupied Albuquerque mosque. No one was hurt, and no suspects were identified. Community members held a peace walk a few days later to support the mosque.
CAIR also said a threatening letter containing an unknown substance was recently mailed to a mosque in San Diego.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.