It’s too early to tell if the case of three men charged with setting a Columbia mosque on fire will be tried solely in federal court, said Mike Bottoms, Maury County district attorney.
Michael Golden, 23, Eric Baker, 32, and Jonathan Stone, 19, are accused of spray painting swastikas and throwing Molotov cocktails at the Islamic Center of Columbia, 1317 South Main St., on Feb. 9. The men are being held on $250,000 bond in Nashville, Bottoms said.
In a preliminary hearing on Monday, agents testified that the men incriminated themselves by admitting to various levels of participation in the crime, Bottoms said.
Fire marshals testified that investigators found evidence of Molotov cocktails used in the arson, Bottoms said.
In federal court, the men are charged with unlawful possession of a destructive device for allegedly using gasoline, rags and empty beer bottles to make the Molotov cocktails used to burn the mosque. More charges may be filed, officials said.
Two of the three men facing federal charges in connection with the mosque firebombing told federal authorities that they are members of the Christian Identity movement, widely considered a white separatist movement.
The men had planned in early February to “burn” the Islamic Center, according to a federal affidavit. The men purchased black spray paint and gasoline, the affidavit alleges. The Islamic Center was set on fire shortly before 5:20 a.m. on Feb. 9. (MORE)