3 men charged in post 9/11 fire at Hamilton temple; police call case hate crime

HAMILTON – Police in Hamilton have arrested three men in connection with a fire at a Hindu temple and damage to a mosque just days after the 9/11 terror attacks in the U.S.

Police say they’re urging the Crown to prosecute the case as a hate crime since Muslim and Hindu places of worship were targeted just days after the tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001.

Police Chief Glenn De Caire said Wednesday the incidents have changed the city forever in a “profound way” as it focuses on “inclusivity, respect, tolerance and understanding.”

A large front window of the Hamilton Mountain Mosque was broken either on the night of Sept. 14, 2001, or early the next day, causing less than $5,000 damage.

Later the same night, police say a fire was started at the front doors of the Hindu Samaj Temple, which engulfed the entire building and caused about $500,000 in damage.

The fire marshal’s office concluded an accelerant was used to light the fire and classified the incident as arson.

Police originally focused their investigation on two male suspects but both were later cleared of involvement and this year, police received new information from the public.

Christopher Pollard, 33, Scott Ryan, 33, and Damien Marsh, 34, all of Hamilton, are all charged with arson to property, possession of incendiary material and mischief under $5,000.

Police say the fact that the incident took place just days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States and that a mosque and a temple were targeted has prompted them to present the case as a hate crime.