CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Man slams into cars at Tampa mosque then speeds off

Witness describes chasing after suspect
Posted at 5:28 PM, Jun 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-27 11:23:49-04

Families are stunned as they anxiously watch a gray truck smashing into cars and right through the front gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Mosque.

“He was aggressive and mean. Like he’s mean. He is like [acting like] 'I am going to do it!''” said Gamal Farag.

Farag witnessed the truck plow through the cars and front gate before he decided to follow the car himself. He tailed the gray truck for almost a mile before he lost it. 

The mosque was expecting up to 1,200 people that night breaking their fast for the religious month of Ramadan. It was only a couple of hours before then that the truck made its way into the parking lot.

Families were gathering for a religious celebration. The suspect, Shaun Urwiler, told deputies he was just trying to "throw a few donuts and wreak a little havoc,” according to the official report.

ABC Action News spoke with the suspect’s brother, Neal Urwiler, over the phone, about the situation.

Neal Urwiler says his brother, Shaun, called him a few hours before  the incident to let him know that he had a dream about Fallujah, Iraq and believes it triggered him. He tells us, his brother is a combat veteran with PTSD and was not taking his medication. He says Shaun Urwiler hit “rock bottom” but his intention wasn’t to hurt anyone.

“I apologize on behalf of my family if anyone was scared,” said Neal Urwiler, “This is not something a sane person would do. He’s not that person and he’s going to get help.”

"Are my children outside? Thankfully, it was pouring rain outside, and I think that was a blessing in and of itself," said Aida Mackic, as a member of the Council for American-Islamic Relations.

Farag has questions for the suspect.

“What you do this for? What make you do this? I don’t understand. What the reason?” Farag asks.

Urwiler is charged with criminal mischief and property damage. 

“In my opinion, God will take care of him," said Farag. He has faith that the justice system will work as it should.

Mackic has hopes that this will foster dialogue between the Islamic community and the greater Tampa area.

“We hope that people come inside, ask questions, get to know your Muslim neighbors," she said.