AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department has released three surveillance images of a person of interest in what detectives are calling targeted attacks on Austin’s Muslim community.

The person of interest, a white or Hispanic man, is described as thin with long hair — worn in a ponytail at times — and wearing Adidas shoes. He appears to be wearing the same Navy hoodie in both photos.

These are the recent attacks against the North Austin Muslim Community Center at 11900 N. Lamar Blvd. and members of the Muslim community within the past few weeks.

  • Aug. 29, 2018, at approximately 9:43 p.m. a person of interest is seen on video at the mosque located at 11900 N. Lamar Blvd.
  • Sept. 2, 2018, at approximately 1:24 a.m. four tires were slashed on a vehicle belonging to a member of the mosque. The incident was reported to the police later that morning.
  • Sept. 2, 2018, at approximately 1:27 a.m. the front doors on the east side of the mosque were shattered as were doors and windows on the south side of the mosque. The person of interest is seen on video, but not seen causing the damage. 
  • Sept. 13, 2018, at approximately 1:43 a.m. there were two tires slashed on two separate vans. One belonging to the mosque’s security guard, and the other to the mosque itself. A crack was found on a window in what appeared to be an attempted entry.
  • Sept. 17, 2018, at approximately 2:08 a.m. the front doors of the New Madina Market located on North Lamar were broken. The person of interest seen on video appears to be the same person captured on video at the mosque on Aug. 29, 2018. 

“The Austin Police Department takes these crimes very seriously. Anytime a specific group is targeted or attacked in our community, our entire community is being targeted or attacked,” said APD Chief Manley.

Hussain Syed, who works at the New Madina Market, says the attacks are creating fear among Muslims in the neighborhood.

“I think he hates the Muslims, or he has some grudge against the Muslims or something,” Syed said. “We don’t know, but we’re worried.”

Syed showed a KXAN crew security footage of someone punching holes in the glass door outside of the market late Sunday night. The suspect’s face wasn’t visible on the security camera, which was located inside of the store, but Syed believes his shoes match those of APD’s person of interest.

Syed also says he recognizes the man in the photos APD released. He believes the man was in the store a few days prior to the attack and cut open a bag of rice.

“Up until now, he’s damaging the property,” Syed said. Maybe he will start killing the people or hurting the people.”

Maira Sheikh, Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations Austin chapter says she hopes police are able to find the person behind the attacks quickly, as fear spreads through the neighborhood.

“This is not just an issue of a few windows and doors being broken,” Sheikh said. “It’s a matter of a community that’s already been a target of animosity, in general, feeling increasingly unsafe in their own city, in their own neighborhood, and it’s much much harder to repair people that are becoming increasingly fearful. It’s much harder to repair the emotional damage that causes than it is to repair the damaged windows or doors.”

“The Austin Police Department has increased patrols at various locations and is employing covert tactics in an attempt to identify and arrest the suspect(s). We will continue to aggressively investigate this case until the suspect(s) has/have been arrested,” the chief said.

APD is requesting any information on this string of vandalism to be reported to Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS.