Noel Becht is an Arizona man charged with threatening a Phoenix mosque just days after a mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques killed 50 people.
Becht, 40, was charged with threatening and intimidating, disorderly conduct and trespassing, AZ Family reports.
Police say Becht entered the United Islamic Center of Arizona, claimed he was interested in learning about Islam, and asked to sit in on a prayer service.
Becht later began entering rooms he was not allowed in and asking “unusual questions regarding service times at this mosque and at the mosque in Tempe,” AZ Family reported.
When he was questioned by a mosque official, Becht made a sawing motion across his neck with his finger.
He was arrested by sheriff’s deputies.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Noel Becht Asked ‘Unusual Questions’ at Phoenix Mosque
Police say Becht came to the United Islamic Center of Arizona in Phoenix on Saturday around 7:30 pm.
Becht told mosque officials that he was interested in learning about the Muslim religion and asked to sit in on a prayer service.
Leaders invited him to sit in on the service before Becht began to wander around and ask “unusual” questions, police say.
2. Becht Made a Sawing Motion Across His Neck to a Mosque Leader, Police Say
After sitting in on the prayer service for a while, Becht began to wander around the mosque and entering rooms that he was not permitted to be in, police say.
Becht asked “unusual” questions about service times at the Phoenix mosque and another mosque in Tempe, Arizona.
When one of the mosque’s leaders questioned Becht, the man made a sawing motion across his neck with his finger, police said.
3. Becht Was Charged With Threatening and Intimidating
Phoenix officers said they arrested Becht “based upon the totality of the circumstances,” The Arizona Republic reported.
Becht was charged with threatening and intimidating, disorderly conduct and trespassing.
He was booked into the Maricopa County sheriff’s office.
4. Police Step Up Security at Mosques After Attack
Becht’s arrest came as police in Phoenix and around the country stepped up security at mosques after a gunman in New Zealand killed 50 people and injured 50 others.
Phoenix mayor-elect Kate Gallego spoke at a vigil for the victims at the Islamic Center of the Northeast Valley.
“I grew up knowing that my own family came to America to escape religious violence, and I believe no person should ever be persecuted for their religious beliefs,” said Gallego.
Rep. Greg Stanton, who also attended the vigil, called for an end to bloodshed.
“Let there be peace on our Earth. These are troubled times in America and across the globe,” he said.
5. New Zealand Mosque Shooter Killed 50 People
Becht’s arrest came just days after a shooter who had written a white nationalist manifesto livestreamed his attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
At least 50 people have died from wounds suffered in the attack and 50 others were injured.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the country will reform its gun laws in response to the attack. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world, with about 1.5 million firearms among its 5 million residents, according to Reuters.