Crime

Clovis man who vandalized mosque gets court program for mental illness

Doors were boarded up at the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno at 2111 E. Nees Ave. following vandalism caused by a Clovis man.
Doors were boarded up at the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno at 2111 E. Nees Ave. following vandalism caused by a Clovis man. THE FRESNO BEE

A mentally ill man who vandalized the Islamic Cultural Center and a nearby northeast Fresno business on Christmas Day was sentenced Friday to probation and a program that will ensure he gets the proper medical treatment, his lawyer said.

Asif Mohammad Khan, who sat in Fresno County Superior Court with his parents, was accepted in Behavior Health Court, a post-conviction program for the mentally ill.

In the program, Khan, 29, will meet regularly with a probation officer and a therapist to ensure he takes his medication, attends doctor appointments and self-help meetings, and stays out of trouble, said Fresno defense lawyer Gerald Schwab Jr., who represents Khan.

“This is the way the justice system is supposed to work,” Schwab said.

Schwab said Khan suffers from schizophrenia. A Muslim, Khan had no criminal history prior to vandalizing the Islamic Cultural Center near Nees and Maple avenues and the California Digestive Disease Center at Fresno and Alluvial avenues, court records say.

On the morning of Dec. 25, police said Khan went to the cultural center and threw river rock into the glass doors to get inside before vandalizing the interior of the fellowship hall. He never went inside the prayer rooms or took money from locked donation boxes, police said.

He then drove to the medical center and used river rock to bust the glass doors. Once inside, he vandalized two 42-inch televisions, spread motor oil on couches and chairs and poured water on a copier, scanner and other electronic equipment, police said.

He then returned to his Clovis home, but went back to the culture center hours later to retrieve his jacket and cap. While there, he destroyed a podium, pulled down speakers and poured bleach on them, and then did the same to an American flag. He then returned to the Fresno Digestive Center, where police arrested him.

In a police interview, Khan told detectives that the crime was not meant as hateful to the Islamic Cultural Center since he attended programs there. Instead, he said his crimes were targeted at a young woman who had bullied him and her family, police Chief Jerry Dyer said at a news conference after Khan’s arrest.

The speakers were targeted because Khan didn’t like the messages expressed by the mosque, Dyer said. He also damaged the American flag because he believed the flag was “not being portrayed in the proper way at the Islamic Cultural Center,” the chief said.

A criminal complaint initially was filed against him with six felony charges of burglary and vandalism. In a plea agreement in June, Khan pleaded no contest to a single felony charge of vandalism. The five remaining felony charges were dismissed.

Friday, Schwab said Khan is deeply sorry for his actions. He thanked Judge Hilary Chittick for accepting Khan into the program and praised the District Attorney’s Office for understanding Khan’s mental illness.

“He was in a delusion state from his illness,” Schwab said. “He never intended to do it.”

Pablo Lopez: 559-441-6434, @beecourts

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