RICHMOND, Calif. (KTVU) - New details are unfolding about the man arrested for threatening people at a Richmond mosque and for a fake bomb that he allegedly constructed. The threats that the mosque Imam described are unnerving.
Islamic Society of West Contra Costa County sits just off San Pablo Avenue in Richmond.
"Friday prayer, there's a lot of people that come here and pray. They scared, they think they're going to bomb the mosque," said mosque member Omar al Rahimi.
On Friday, December 4th, someone stopped and made threats against the men, women and children who pray there.
"The most extreme was something along the lines of I'll kill you all. I'll be back. And that's pretty much what I have heard," said the Imam Hamza Mehter.
Omar al Rahimi said it makes him want to stay home. "Oh yeah, man. It's scary."
People copied down the man's license plate and called police. That led to Sunday's operation at a nearby home on McBryde Avenue.
Officers arrested 55-year-old William Celli for the threats, after they determined he had posted a photo of a pipe bomb on his Facebook page. That photo is now gone.
"His behavior and aggression towards them coupled with the photo of this device really prompted us to be worried about what he was capable of," said Richmond Police Captain Mark Gagan.
Once police entered Celli's house with the blacked out windows, they found what appeared to be a large pipe bomb, about four inches across and a foot long.
"If a person is threatening Muslims and it's out of hatred, then yes, it's a hate crime. I think not just is a hate crime, I think you would have to define it as terrorism," said Mehter.
Police shut down the street and evacuated surrounding residents. They later destroyed the bomb and determined it was a fake.
"He will be on the radar screen on a state and federal level now for the rest of his life based on this incident," said Captain Gagan about Celli.
One of Celli's neighbors, who didn't want to give his name, said Celli is a plumber. "I don't know what to think. It's kind of unbelievable."
Celli is in jail and set to appear in court on Tuesday on charges of making criminal threats and possession of a fake explosive device. Celli declined KTVU's request for an interview.