RAEFORD, N.C. (WNCN) – The Hoke County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a major in the U.S. Army Reserves after an incident at a Raeford mosque where a man left open packages of bacon at the entrance, threatened to kill members of the mosque and attempted to run them down with his SUV.
According to authorities, a Chevrolet Tahoe was parked outside Masjid Al Madina mosque located at 196 Pittman Grove Church Road. The man inside has been identified as U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Russell Thomas Langford. Langford is accused of following members of the mosque when they got into a car and left the property.
Later in the evening, Langford made death threats against members of Masjid Al Madina. Authorities were called and deputies responded to the scene.
Farhae Chouehry, a worshiper at the mosque, said that what happened was “absolutely frightening because you were in your worship place people eating and praying and someone pulls a gun out.”
An investigation was started and several firearms, ammunition, and a number of additional weapons were located inside the Tahoe.
Capt. Eric Connor with the U.S. Army Reserves Command at Fort Bragg said Langford first enlisted in the Army in 2003 and served two tours of Iraq, one in 2004 and another in 2008.
Langford has been awarded the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, as well as other theater service medals. He went off active duty in November 2008 and immediately went into the Army Reserve.
Langford has been working in the Army Reserves G 3-3 Mobilization Section at Fort Bragg and had no prior issues in his Army record.
Connor told CBS North Carolina that
The U.S. Army Reserve Command is aware of the arrest of Maj. Russell
Langford. The incident is currently under investigation…While we cannot talk about this incident because it is under investigation, we can tell you actions like this are totally contradictory to the Army Values.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy organization for Muslim civil rights, is now asking for an investigation into a possible hate crime and additional law enforcement patrols in the area of the mosque.
“We call on state law enforcement authorities and the FBI to investigate this incident as a possible hate crime. We also ask local police to step up patrols in the area of this and other North Carolina mosques, particularly during the nightly activities associated with the ongoing fast of Ramadan.” – Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR National Communications Director
According to Hooper, a man allegedly approached a Muslim chaplain at Fort Bragg, showed him a gun, and threatened to blow up the mosque.
Hooper said he was contacted by the imam who was concerned about an incident that happened around 4:30 Thursday afternoon.
Hooper also reports the man “attempted to run over a group of people entering the mosque for the Ramadan evening prayer.”
The man who was threatened, Mohamm Tereen, spoke with CBS North Carolina and expressed his concern.
“Obviously we are very concerned with security. There are a lot of kids here, ladies here, we have almost 200 people. During the month of Ramadan we are here everyday.”
Langford has been charged with ethnic intimidation, assault with a deadly weapon, going armed to terror the public, communicating threats, stalking, and disorderly conduct.
“It’s unbelievable to me that somebody in the Army special forces, how can you have so much hate to us,” said worshiper Farida Yasmin.
Langford posted his $60,000 bond and was taken into custody by the U.S. Army.
There were no reports of physical injuries.