Missouri man gets 2 years for hate crimes directed at mosque

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) _ A Missouri man who pleaded guilty to making threatening phone calls to a Georgia mosque has been sentenced to two years in prison.

In a news release Tuesday, federal prosecutors said 50-year-old Preston Q. Howard, of Wright City, made numerous calls last year to the Islamic Society of Augusta, during which Howard threatened to “kill,” “bomb,” “shoot,” “behead,” “slaughter,” “execute,” “light on fire” and “murder” members of the mosque, to “hunt down” and “zone in” on Muslims and to “blow up the mosque.”

Howard admitted committing the acts and obstructing or attempting to obstruct the mosque members’ free exercise of their religious beliefs.

Authorities say U.S. District Chief Judge J. Randal Hall enhanced the sentence because Howard chose his victims based on their religion, “thereby committing a hate crime.”