Jacksonville Pinoys react to alleged mass shooting plot at local Islamic center

JACKSONVILLE, FL — It’s been a week since authorities arrested 69-year-old Filipino, Bernandino “Nandie” Gawala Bolatete, for allegedly planning a mass shooting at a Jacksonville Islamic Center.
The arrest sent shockwaves through Jacksonville’s Filipino community.
Couple Mike and Machelle Joya who own a grocery store which Bolatete frequented, expressed their concern and disbelief.
“Na-surprise ako kasi he’s a good customer of us and he comes like 3x a week, eating here. He’s a very quiet na tao,” said Joya.
“My take is he’s a good guy, and he just come here for peace and quiet,” said Mike. “I don’t believe anything that the media said about this allegations.”
Meanwhile, Ashraf Shaikh, a spokesperson for the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, Bolatete’s alleged target, said their congregation was disturbed by the news. He said ever since the center was built in 1982, nothing like this have ever happened.
“It’s very sad. You know, we somehow have forgotten that God Almighty is going to hold each of us responsible for what we do,” Shaikh said.
Bolatete was arrested for knowingly possessing a silencer, not registered to him after an investigation confirmed that he was making plans to carry out the shooting.
Reports said that FBI agents found a dozen guns and 2500 rounds of ammunition in Bolatete’s possession.
“We have a what we called a Minaret — it is a tall stretcher — and that’s what reports said, that he had planned to climb up there and shoot from there,” he said.
“Obviously, he did not know that our Minaret – access to that is fairly well secured and it is not easy for anybody to come in or even people who do come to the Islamic Center on a regular basis to go up there.”
On his first court appearance on Tuesday, a judge denied bond for Bolatete, referring to him as a ‘serious, serious danger’ to the community.
His next court appearance will be on December 12 at 10:00 a.m.
A motive is still being determined.
If convicted, Bolatete faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison.
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  • kuya
    18 December 2017 at 6:59 pm - Reply

    Its just right…