The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the FBI began investigating the suspect, identified as 69-year-old Bernandino Gawala Bolatete, in October, when they received a tip that he allegedly planned to open fire at the Islamic Center, reported WJXT, a Fox affiliate in Jacksonville.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said his office received a tip in late October that Bernandino Bolatete had expressed "strong anti-Islamic sentiment" and planned a mass shooting at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida. Bolatete claimed to have killed the officer who shot him, court records said, and he also described his own prowess with firearms.
During the investigation, Bolatete made plans to conduct the mass shooting, including obtaining the weaponry to complete the attack, according to JSO Sheriff Mike Williams.
The department's SWAT team arrested him on December 1 after he expressed interest in a prohibited possession of an accessory to one of his firearms.
An FBI spokesperson said Bolatete is being held by federal authorities, but did not say where exactly he is being detained. Keep shooting those Muslims, you know, on Friday.
Although the receiving and possessing an illegal firearm is now the only charge against Bolatete at this point, but he can get up to 10 years in prison for that.
Bolatete's investigation is ongoing and he could face additional charges.
On a Facebook page that appeared to belong to Bolatete, he described himself as a shooting sport enthusiast and posted multiple photos of himself at a gun range. Bolatete said he didn't want any paperwork associated with the silencer sale, WJAX reports.
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Bolatete told the officer he knew how to go up into the tower at the mosque in Jacksonville and that he had five rifles. The suspect is a Philippines national and a Green Card holder.
During one meeting, Bolatete told the officer that he used to be a "range master" at a shooting range in the Philippines, according to the criminal complaint.
The undercover officer met with the suspect on November 27 at Bolatete's workplace, Wacko's Liquor Depot.
Bolatete was charged Friday on suspicion of illegally possessing a firearm silencer, a federal offense.
Bolatete was charged with the illegal possession of a firearm silencer, while other charges are now pending.
Days later, the undercover officer and Bolatete met with the agreement that Bolatete would purchase another silencer for $100.
The suspect also said he possessed a 45-caliber handgun in his vehicle.
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