RICHMOND (CBS SF) — A Richmond man who was charged with making threats to Muslims, and allegedly had an explosive device in his possession was released Wednesday, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.
William Celli, had pleaded not guilty to charges of making a criminal threat with a hate crime enhancement, as well as attempting to violate the free exercise of civil rights in a Richmond courtroom Wednesday.
Detectives on Sunday served a search warrant at Celli’s home in the 5100 block of McBryde Avenue after receiving a tip on Thursday that he may have manufactured explosive devices and planned to harm the community’s Muslims, police said.
Police said a possible homemade explosive device was found at his home, prompting neighboring residents to be evacuated at about 2 p.m. Sunday. A bomb squad then detonated the device and no one was harmed.
Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said in a statement today that he “(commended) the Richmond Police Department for their work in stopping what could have been a tragic attack in our community.”
He said he was “very grateful” no one was hurt and that efforts will be supported to stop “any individual or group that seeks to terrorize or harm our residents.”
Butt added, “Clearly, this threat had been influenced by the hateful and divisive rhetoric that is being used on a national level by presidential candidates.”
He was referencing Celli’s Facebook posts, in which he expresses support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and says he would follow Trump to “the end of the world.”
Among other political tirades, Celli opined on Facebook that “Hispanics coming to my country under false pretenses … need to go back home.”
He also spoke of an influx of Muslims to the U.S., saying, “Kiss your Christian asses good bye. And all other non-believers of the Koran.”
The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has called for federal charges for Celli, as well as increased security at mosques and an overall rejection of anti-Muslim political rhetoric.
CAIR released a statement Thursday questioning Celli’s release.
“We are shocked at the release on bail of an individual who faces such serious allegations of targeting a religious minority with violence,” CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo said.
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