The Justice Department announced that Gerald Wallace, 35, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to threatening to shoot members of a mosque in Miami Gardens, Florida. Wallace pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Florida to one count of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs by making the threatening call.
During the plea hearing, Wallace admitted that on the evening of Feb. 19, he left a voicemail message for the Islamic Center of Greater Miami, located in Miami Gardens, Florida. The defendant admitted leaving a hate-filled and profanity laden message against Islam, the prophet Mohammed, and the Koran, during which he threatened to go to the mosque, and stated, “I’m gonna shoot all y’all.” He further admitted that by leaving this threatening message, he obstructed congregants who worship at the Islamic Center from freely exercising their religious beliefs.
“The Justice Department will not tolerate threats of hate violence, which threaten whole communities’ sense of safety and security,” said John Gore, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute hate crimes so that all people, no matter how they worship, the color of their skin, or their country of origin, can live their lives freely and without fear.”
“Hate crimes, no matter their form, engender fear and have no place in our society,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg. “By leaving a hate-filled and profanity laden message against Islam and threatening to shoot the members of the mosque he targeted, Gerald Wallace obstructed the free exercise of religion. Hate crimes not only violate our laws, but they are contrary to our country’s most fundamental principles. We will not tolerate the targeting of any community in our society. We will continue to prosecute hate crimes aggressively to ensure that all members of our community can live without fear.”
Wallace faces a maximum statutory penalty 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for his guilty plea to the hate crime charge. Sentencing is set for Jan. 17, 2018, in front of U.S. District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Miami Area Corruption Task Force and the Miami Gardens Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry C. Wallace, Jr. of the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney Samantha Trepel of the Civil Rights Division.