Officials: Suspect linked to man's death at Sanford mosque shot in Indian River County

A man who savagely beat and killed a maintenance worker at a mosque in Seminole County on Thursday was later shot and wounded by deputies following a multi-county search for the suspect, authorities said.

That suspect, later identified as Ahmed Raslan, 38, was tracked down in Indian River County where he remains hospitalized. His condition was not immediately known.

How and why the attack occurred remains under investigation.

Earlier Thursday, Seminole County officials said the 59-year-old victim and Raslan knew each other, possibly even training one to take over the job of another, but cautioned that it was not a targeted attack on the mosque or the surrounding community.

However, at another press conference, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said it now appears Raslan targeted the mosque believing that he was apparently protecting the "bloodline of Caesar," referring to Julias Caesar.

Lemma said "radical, very bizarre posts" allegedly from the suspect were found online.

"Clearly this location was targeted, but it was not targeted based on being a mosque," Sheriff Lemma said, adding that the suspect apparently believed the mosque was Caesar's home and that he needed to defend it.

Lemma also clarified that there was no formal job transfer between both men, something that was mentioned at an earlier news conference. The victim's identity has not been released pending notification to his family.

Deputies were called to the mosque Thursday morning after a woman found the injured man on a porch. He had visible injuries and his clothes were scattered, officials said.

Mahmood Dhalla, President of Husseini Islamic Center called the victim, "the heart and soul of this mosque," and will be missed.

"He's always stated, 'I will protect this place with my life' and I think he did so we're very grateful," Dhalla added.

It was determined that Raslan had broken into the facility and then drove away from the area in the victim's vehicle after the altercation, deputies said.

Hours later, the suspect's vehicle was picked up by two license plate readers in Indian River County, according to the Indian River County Sheriff's Office. Deputies said they found Raslan in the vehicle at a Sam's Club parking lot.  They said Raslan did not listen to deputies' commands and pointed "finger guns" at them, officials said.

Two deputies shot Raslan after he attempted to get back into his car, the sheriff said. He was shot at least three times and taken to the hospital. 

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