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Bond denied for mosque arson suspect; Public defender appointed

Affidavit: Schreiber admitted setting fire
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Posted at 4:44 PM, Sep 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-15 16:24:10-04

A judge denied bond Thursday morning for a man arrested yesterday in connection with a Fort Pierce mosque fire Sunday night.

Joseph Michael Schreiber, 32, of Port St. Lucie, was arrested Wednesday following a tip. 

During Thursday's hearing, the judge said the court found no condition of release to reasonably protect the community.

Detectives say that after his arrest Wednesday, Schreiber admitted setting the fire, said he had no intention of hurting anyone and was embarrassed to have committed the crime.

Schreiber lives in the 5700 block of northwest Zenith Dr. where a search warrant was executed. Evidence collected at the house linked him to the fire that occurred late Sunday night, the sheriff's office said.

"An arrest in this case has been made just 65 hours after the fire was reported. He was picked up when he was walking on the street," said Chief Deputy Garry Wilson of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office.

An examination of Schreiber’s social media account also shows multiple anti-Islamic posts and comments, the sheriff’s office said.

Schreiber was charged with arson and Florida’s Hate Crime Enhancement will also be applied to the charge. That means if he is convicted he could face a maximum of 30 years in prison. The FBI is also seeing if there are federal charges to be filed. 

The sheriff’s office says he qualifies as an habitual felony offender and could ultimately be sentenced to life in prison.

Investigators are checking Schreiber's workplace and the site where he was arrested, which was the 100 block of Depot Drive in Fort Pierce.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of Florida, the Civil Rights Division, the FBI and the ATF will continue to investigate the fire at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce for potential violations of federal law.  The Justice Department will continue to work to ensure that acts - and threats - of violence targeting houses of worship are fully and completely investigated, Southern District of Florida U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer said in a statement.

Investigators say Schreiber is a known felon with a violent criminal history that includes armed robbery. 

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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