Man accused of threatening to kill people at Islamic center because of ‘hatred for Muslims’
LAPD officers discuss the arrest of an Agoura Hills man who is accused of threatening the Islamic Center of Southern California. (Video by Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
State prosecutors have charged an Agoura Hills man with making criminal threats after police say he called the Islamic Center of Southern California and threatened to kill people there.
Investigators allege that Mark Feigin, 40, called the center twice last month, at one point threatening to kill its members because of his “hatred for Muslims and his belief that Muslims will destroy the United States,” LAPD Cmdr. Horace Frank said Tuesday at a news conference.
The LAPD launched an investigation into the calls and arrested Feigin during a traffic stop Oct. 19, Frank said. Police then searched his Agoura Hills home and found several guns — rifles, shotguns, handguns — and thousands of rounds of ammunition, the commander said.
“When people make threats of this nature and they have the means to carry out those threats, it’s a very serious matter,” Frank said.
Feigin faces an additional allegation of committing a hate crime and a misdemeanor count of making annoying telephone calls, according to documents filed in court last week. He is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 10.
Feigin, who posted bail and was released from jail a day after he was arrested, could not immediately be reached for comment.
The first call to the Islamic Center came Sept. 19, when a man left a voicemail that was “peppered with vulgarity and espoused hatred toward the Muslim faith,” Frank said. The next day, Frank said a man called again, threatening to kill the person who answered the phone along with other members of the center.
“Unfortunately, in today’s political climate, such hate is not uncommon,” said Omar Ricci, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Southern California. “We get a call every once in a while. This particular call rose to a different level.”
Frank did not specify how police identified Feigin as their suspect, saying only that police were able to “connect the voice to the person who called.” Investigators obtained warrants to arrest Feigin and search his home last week.
Though Feigin has a constitutional right to free speech, Frank said, “that right does not extend to making statements that threaten the well-being of others.”
“People make those calls all the time,” he said. “Where you cross the line is the threat to kill them. … That’s where free speech ends.”
Police are also looking into Facebook posts and tweets that may be connected to Feigin, Frank said. Many of the tweets shared by the LAPD include disparaging, profanity-laced remarks about Muslims, calling Muslims “filthy Islamic beasts” and saying they should be “quarantined.”
The tweets also included remarks against Muslim refugees — “drowning them is best,” one read.
The Islamic Center has increased security in the wake of the calls and the arrest, which Ricci said had shaken the community. When Ricci saw photos of the guns and ammunition police found in Feigin’s home, he said he feared a “Columbine-type event,” referring to the Colorado high school shooting massacre in 1999.
“He could have very easily barged into our facility, with the innocent parishioners, constituents,” Ricci said. “The worst comes to mind.”
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