Police in Jacksonville arrested a man who was planning to carry out a mass shooting at a local Islamic center after carrying out a months-long investigation that involved an undercover officer making contact with the suspect.
Bernandino Bolatete, a 69-year-old Philippine national with a green card, was in the process of planning an attack on the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida when a confidential source tipped off the police in October, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams told Action News Jax.
The sheriff’s department dispatched an undercover officer to make contact with Bolatete to learn more about his plans. According to a criminal complaint, the officer and Bolatete went to shooting ranges multiple times during the course of the investigation, where the suspect would discuss his hatred for Muslims and his desire to go on a shooting rampage at the mosque.
“I just want to give these freaking people a taste of their own medicine, you know? They are the ones who are always doing these shootings, the killings,” he told the officer.
He apparently plotted to climb a tower at the Jacksonville mosque and use the high ground to gun down worshipers with his AR-15, one of five rifles that he purported to own.
Bolatete also boasted to the officer that he was a “range master” back in the Philippines, and he claimed that he had shot and killed a police officer back in his home country during an argument over a parking spot that saw the cop shoot at him first.
Authorities placed Bolatete under arrest on December 1st after he asked the undercover officer for help in purchasing a silencer. He faces a federal charge for possessing a silencer not registered to him. More charges could follow pending the result of a civil rights investigation.