RICHMOND (KRON) — A Richmond man was charged Wednesday for making threats against Muslims.
Police said he had a possible explosive device. Fifty-five-year-old William Celli pleaded not guilty in a Richmond courtroom to a charge of making a criminal threat with a hate crime enhancement as well as a charge that he attempted to violate the free exercise of civil rights, District Attorney Derek Butts said.
Detectives had served a search warrant at Celli’s home in the 5100 block of McBryde Avenue and said they found what they describe as a possible homemade explosive device.
Neighbors were evacuated. A bomb squad then detonated the device and no one was injured.
Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said in a statement 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.
Bay City News contributed to this report.