Cody J. Crawford, 24, who raised investigators suspicions just hours after someone firebombed a Corvallis mosque Nov. 28, shuffled into federal court Thursday, accused of a hate crime for allegedly setting a religious property on fire.
The mosque blaze occurred two days after the arrest of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a former Oregon State University student accused of trying to set off a van full of fake explosives at Portland's annual holiday tree-lighting ceremony. Mohamud, now 20, had worshipped at the Corvallis mosque. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
The federal search warrant affidavit recounts rants Crawford made about Muslims and descriptions of himself as a Christian warrior during two unrelated contacts in December with McMinnville and Corvallis police. "You look like Obama. You are a Muslim like him. Jihad goes both ways, Christians can jihad too," he told a McMinnville officer when taken to a hospital Dec. 14 after a harassment arrest.
In a Nov. 28 Facebook posting, Crawford wrote of Mohamud, "This guy on the news was a really bad guy!!! He went to the mosque right in front of my house ... I even remember when he walked by my house one time."
According to a federal search warrant affidavit, Crawford was identified as a "potential major contributor of the DNA" found on a blue Maglite flashlight discovered the morning of the fire on a walkway to the mosque. A plastic 2-liter strawberry Fanta soda bottle and a brick were found near a broken window of the mosque. Lab tests showed the bottle contained gasoline and a mineral oil.
Hours into the investigation, Crawford told investigators who canvassed the neighborhood that his Maglite flashlight had been stolen from his porch. An FBI agent later that day showed him a photo of the flashlight found at the mosque. Crawford said, "That really looks like my light," the affidavit said.
Bryan Lessley, assistant federal public defender, signaled that he will raise Crawford's mental health as an issue as the case proceeds. "Mr. Crawford has very severe mental health issues, and hospitalizations in the past," Lessley said. "We're going to spend awhile trying to get to the bottom of that."