Muslims Forgive Connecticut Mosque Shooter After He Offered a Heartfelt Apology
On the night that ISIS attacked Paris, Ted Hakey felt afraid. The 48-year-old had 10 drinks at a bar in his neighborhood and continued to drink after he arrived home. In the early hours of the morning, Hakey grabbed his gun and fired a round into the side of the Baitul Aman "House of Peace" Mosque next door to his house.
Five months after bullet shells were found littering the prayer altar, congregants of House of Peace — whose motto is "Love for all, hatred for none" — welcomed Hakey into the mosque to deliver a different kind of message: an apology.
At a symposium entitled "True Islam and the Extremists," Hakey, a former marine, told the more-than-50 assembled members of the congregation that fear had guided his actions.
"As a neighbor, I did have fears, but fear is always when you don't know something. The unknown is what you are always afraid of," Hakey said, according to the Hartford Courant. "I wish I had come knocked on your door, and if I spent five minutes with you, it would have made all the difference in the world. And I didn't do that."
Mosque President Mohammed Qureshi said that the congregation welcomed Hakey back after sensing that he'd had a change of heart.
"I've never had anything like this. It was very emotional. He came in in tears, he was quivering," Qureshi said. "I could feel it in his heart and his eyes that he meant what he said. I felt like he was saying it from his heart. It's a rare moment when you see someone with so much hate for you come and apologize."
In the wake of terror attacks like the San Bernardino shootings and the Paris attacks, hate crimes against the Muslim community have surged.
Hakey, who is facing 14 months in prison for what is classified as a federal hate crime, said that he was moved by the congregants reaction to his apology.
"The forgiveness was so genuine. I realized they were really good people, and the whole way they handled it was above and beyond," he said.