Hattiesburg pastors attend services at Islamic Center in act of solidarity after shooting

Worshipers at the Islamic Center of Hattiesburg sit down with Rachel Beech
Worshipers at the Islamic Center of Hattiesburg sit down with Rachel Beech

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Two Pine Belt pastors joined worship services at the Islamic Center of Hattiesburg on Friday in an act of solidarity and to express condolences for a shooting that took place at the Center in March.

"We'd been neighbors, but we'd not been good neighbors," said Steve Ramp, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church who joined Parkway Heights United Methodist Church pastor Eddie Restor at the service.

One month before the service, members of the Center arrived to morning prayer and discovered two bullet holes in the building. The FBI is still investigating the motive behind the incident.

The Center is a place of worship for more than 20 nationalities in the Pine Belt. Imam Jerry Buti said he considers it a "peaceful oasis" where anyone is welcome to worship and practice the faith of Islam.

Buti said he will attend the Saturday concrete pouring that will take place at Westminster Church nearby which was severely damaged by a tornado in February 2013.

Buti, Ramp, and Restor are all members of the local Rotary Club.

The Center was shot on March 18. Hattiesburg police investigated, but no arrests have been made. The walls and windows were damaged. The windows were repaired by a local glass company for free.

Members of the center said at the time they believed five shots had been fired into the building, three lodged in the front, and two passed from the front to the back. No one was at the building at the time of the shooting.

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