Suspect charged after Philadelphia mosque vandalized with paint

Jonathan Boone, 47, has been charged with institutional vandalism, criminal mischief and related offenses.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Philadelphia mosque vandalized with paint; suspect wanted
Security cameras recorded a male suspect painting symbols and phrases on several doors and structures around the mosque.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office has charged a suspect in connection to the vandalism of a mosque in West Oak Lane.

Jonathan Boone, 47, of Philadelphia, has been charged with institutional vandalism, criminal mischief, two counts of possession of an instrument of crime (can of paint, paintbrush), and defiant trespass.

Johnathan Boone

The DA's Office says Boone has been in bench warrant status for an open 2014 case for harassment and criminal mischief.

Surveillance video showed the suspect vandalizing the Masjidullah Center for Human Excellence at Limekiln Pike and Washington Lane around 11:57 p.m. Friday.

The man can be seen entering and exiting the grounds. He had a paintbrush and a can of paint.

The video shows him painting words and symbols associated with various religions on outer walls, steps, and doors.

Investigators say a 14th district police officer recognized the suspect in the video and contacted the detective assigned to the case.

The detective was able to locate Boone a short time after and took him into custody Monday night.

"We have cameras all around, so we have security that way. Good thing he didn't go inside," noted Renard Burrell as he left Monday prayer service.

"We don't know if it was a hate crime, or if this person was mentally disturbed," said Imam Mikal Shabazz, who is one of the imams at the mosque.

His message to the vandal: "The best thing that we could do is ask for forgiveness. Ask for our forgiveness and ask for God's forgiveness, and live a life that's pleasing to God."

Action News was at the Masjidullah Center in 2019 when someone threw rocks through the door of the mosque, shattering part of the front door.

"There's always going to be some type of vandalism. Last year, an incident took place where somebody broke the window," said David Burgess, as he left morning prayer on Monday.

"I just think it's just hate. Somebody that has something against our religion," said Sabir Salahuddin, who learned of this vandalism during morning prayer. "I'm upset about it, but it's not the first time something has happened at this masjid, so I'm not surprised. I just think it's wrong, and it needs to stop."

Over the weekend, other religious institutions including churches and synagogues shared their support and stood in solidarity with the Muslim community.

CAIR-Philadelphia (Council on American-Islamic Relations) leaders are calling on police to investigate the incident as a possible hate crime.

"We condemn this act of vandalism and urge local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to apprehend the perpetrator and to determine whether there was a bias motive for the incident. All Americans should feel safe from harassment or intimidation at their houses of worship," CAIR-Philadelphia President Mohammed Zubairu, who is also a member of Masjidullah, said in a statement.

Councilperson Cindy Bass released a statement, reading in part:

"There is no room anywhere in the United States for hate or vandalism of any house of worship. The destruction that occurred at a West Oak Lane mosque, Masjidullah, was disrespectful and a disgrace. It is unacceptable and I denounce it."