Police say they've figured out who is behind a disturbing voicemail of a man threatening to behead worshippers at a Watauga mosque.
Police confirmed the suspect in the voicemail left in early August is a 36-year-old man who was staying at a home about a mile away. He also apparently made a second call apologizing to the mosque and offered an explanation.
In the weeks since this call, the worshippers at the Watauga mosque say they have increased security since they believed the man in the voicemail when he said he had weapons and intended to kill them.
“We'll start just cutting off the heads of all you m*******rs. Huh? How would you like that? Maybe we need another Christian crusade, which I think we do,” the man in the original voicemail said. “I'm a Christian. I'm gonna tell you I'm your f***king enemy. I hate you, and I will never be your f**kin' friend."
Watauga police launched an investigation August 6. With help from the FBI, police say they traced the call to 36-year-old James Nicholas Smithey, who told them he didn't remember leaving the message.
But Smithey did identify his voice on the recording.
“We can forgive him. I mean, he is a member of our community,” said Watauga Mosque Board Member Mujeeb Kazi. “But the law has already been activated, and obviously it will go through the due process.”
Kazi played another message left last Thursday.
"Hello. This is the man that called you and said some horrible things,” the second voicemail said. “I'm pretty ashamed. I wasn't even aware I did that. The day that I called I'd been drinking quite, quite extensively.”
Vincent Simon, a member of the mosque's security team, said his fellow worshipers will likely offer forgiveness.
“The people here, if he's willing to speak with them, would like to speak with him and educate him on things he said and why they are wrong,” Simon said.
“We prayed for our country. We prayed for peace,” said Kazi.
Since news of the original call went public, the mosque says people from nearby churches have joined them in prayer, insisting the man who claimed to be Christian in a hate-filled message didn't represent them.
“Look at the people, how many people showed up to show their love,” said Kazi. “That's what the Christianity is about -- loving each other.”
Smithey is facing a misdemeanor harassment charge. Watauga police say they didn't believe the crime warranted a hate crime enhancement.
Police did get a warrant for his arrest late last week and say Smithy turned himself in last Saturday. Records show he bonded out after paying a $500 bond.