A place usually filled with prayer is now scarred with bullet holes and wrapped with crime scene tape. Members of the Baitul Aman Mosque in Meriden, discovered the scene of violence just before Sunday evening prayer.
"The first reaction was, 'Thank God nobody was here,'" said Salaam Bhatti, spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. "One of the bullets actually came through the outer wall through the building, through the inner wall, and it actually exited ... to the other wall."
Those at the mosque wonder if the attacks in Paris were on the mind of the shooter, but Bhatti says they condemn those attacks and all acts of terrorism.
"What we practice here, that is true Islam, being kind to neighbors, participating in Thanksgiving turkey drives, being part of the Christmas gift giving and the Daffodil Festival. These things that make us a stronger community, that is what Islam is about, not killing innocent people," said Bhatti.
Local police and the FBI are investigating the shooting at the Meriden Mosque, and Bhatti says they're standing up instead of bowing down to fear and that the community's reaction has made all the difference.
"The neighbors, friends, have been so supportive in reaching out to us and making sure we're okay, and the love we're receiving from them overshadows any kind of hate received here," said Bhatti.
Bhatti hopes by reaching out and continuing the conversation, it'll help bridge gaps and end any hatred and fear.
"Love for all, hatred for none. That is what we will continue to do, and no terrorist can make us back down from that," said Bhatti. "What we're going to do moving forward is have more outreach efforts. We're not going to close our doors. We're going to open our doors even more."
The public is invited to the Baitul Aman Mosque in Meriden to attend Friday prayer at 1.30pm and an open mosque event at 2pm Saturday to see how they pray and ask any questions.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com