Residents of York’s Islamville community are calling a recent incident in which a property owner allegedly fired a gun into the village only feet from homes and a shrine an act of terrorism.
But the neighbor who deputies accuse of public disorderly conduct and illegally discharging a firearm balks at the notion that the dispute was motivated by terrorism.
Joshua Allan Casey, 37, claims that he has been wrongly accused of shooting a gun and targeting the community.
At about 8 p.m. Dec. 21, deputies were sent to Islamville, a village of Muslim families established more than 30 years ago, after residents reported hearing gunshots and racial slurs from a neighbor, according to a York County Sheriff’s report.
Ahmad Qadri, nephew to the neighbor who reported the shooting, said gunshots had been going off earlier in the day when village leaders were camping during a young men’s retreat. Hours later, he heard gunshots again. This time, he said he spotted Casey in his backyard shooting the gun in the direction of the village.
Casey’s Acclaim Drive home abuts Islamville, with an acre or so of woods separating the home from the village. Casey’s home is within walking distance of the community’s shrine for worship and prayer, and several family homes.
“He started yelling obscenities,” Qadri told The Herald. “This was an act of terrorism. He terrorized our children our women.”
Residents called deputies, describing the shooter as a bearded man in a light-colored shirt, the sheriff’s report states. Deputies saw Casey, who matched that description, walking out of the woods. Neighbors identified him as the shooter, deputies said.
Deputies detained Casey, who smelled of alcohol, and searched him for weapons, the report states. He told deputies he had been drinking beer, but went on the property to speak with his neighbor. Though Casey denied shooting the gun, deputies arrested him because a witness saw him firing the gun. Casey was charged with public disorderly conduct and illegally discharging a firearm. He was released from jail the same day on a $512 personal recognizance bond.
Deputies later spoke with Casey’s wife, who confirmed that her husband did fire a gun in the yard, the report states. Authorities collected several shell casings from the yard that included 9mm and 40 caliber bullets. It’s unclear if they recovered any weapons.
On Monday, Casey told The Herald he did not fire the weapon. He said the shots came from “someone off in the distance,” but claims he was named the suspect because he walked toward the area while deputies were on scene.
“I went there to talk to them,” Casey said. “(Deputies) just arrested me.”
Within the year he and his family have lived on Acclaim Drive, Casey said he’s had no problems with his Muslim neighbors.
“We’ve been nothing but kind to those people,” he said, adding that he allows them to use the acre of property in his backyard and even once helped them retrieve a wandering goat that belonged to an Islamville resident.
“I think that it’s ridiculous that neighbors can’t be aggravated with each other now” without police being involved, Casey said. “It’s ridiculous.”
He complained about gunshots that go off within earshot of his home. On Monday, several gunshots could be heard in the area.
Law enforcement officials have said they’ve received repeated complaints about shots fired in the area. Qadri and Shakir both said that bullets have never been fired in the village. Instead, they say the gunfire comes from another neighbor who lives in the heavily wooded area.
Casey said he has no plans to re-enter the village any time soon.
“I’m just going to put up a privacy fence,” he said. “They stay away from me, I’ll stay away from them.”
But for Ramadan Shakir, who has lived in Islamville all his life, there is still worry that the village might become a target.
Though Shakir said residents want the village to be open to the public, they’re also wary of those with harmful intentions. It’s not uncommon for onlookers to stop at the edge of the property and stare. Others have removed signs that once stood along the village’s outskirts, while some drive into the village at all hours of night.
Islamville community members are concerned that the village might be targeted again.
“It’s hate,” Qadri said. “There are just people who just hate. How many disturbances have we made opposed to what we’ve received? We go to work just like you we shop at Walmart just like you.”