Jacksonville officers: Man planned mass shooting at Islamic center

By: Brittney Donovan , Action News Jax

Updated:

UPDATE: Brother of Jacksonville man accused of planning mass shooting speaks out

A Jacksonville man was arrested after investigators say he planned a mass shooting at an Islamic Center.

Bernandino Bolatete, 69, is facing a federal charge for possessing a silencer not registered to him, according to officials. He pleaded not guilty in federal court on Dec. 12. 

Officials began investigating Bolatete in late October after a confidential source said he was planning an attack on the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, Sheriff Mike Williams said.

An undercover officer got in contact with Bolatete and federal and state investigators were notified, Williams said.

A criminal complaint says Bolatete and the undercover officer went to shooting ranges together several times during the investigation.

During those meetings, Bolatete expressed hatred for Muslims and made threats to shoot up the mosque several times, officials say. 

During one meeting, Bolatete told the officer that he used to be a "range master" at a shooting range in the Philippines, according to the criminal complaint.

He told the undercover officer that a police officer in the Philippines shot him during an argument over a parking spot. Bolatete said he shot and killed the officer, according to the report.

Bolatete told the officer he knew how to go up into the tower at the mosque in Jacksonville and that he had five rifles, including an AR-15 that could be converted to an AR-47.

At one of the meetings, he told the officer he did not plan to survive the attack.

The criminal complaint says Bolatete told the officer, "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."

Bolatete was arrested Dec. 1 after officials say he asked the undercover officer for help in purchasing a firearms silencer.

He said he did not want paperwork associated with the sale, according to officials.

Bolatete has a green card and is a Philippines national, an FBI spokesperson said.

FBI officials said that no one at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida was at risk at any time during the investigation.

A civil rights investigation is underway and Bolatete could face more charges, FBI officials said.

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