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Quba Islamic Center Fire: Homeless Man Charged With Arson

Houston authorities said Darryl Ferguson admitted to starting a fire that destroyed a Quba Islamic Center building last Friday.

A homeless man has been arrested for allegedly setting a fire that destroyed a building used by a Houston Islamic organization, authorities told NBC affiliate KPRC. Daryl Ferguson, 55, reportedly admitted to torching a building occupied by the Quba Islamic Center. He has been charged with arson. But the motive — whether the Friday morning blaze was lit because the building was a place of Muslim worship, or for some other reason —remains unknown.

Authorities won't comment on the motive. As Ferguson left a police station in handcuffs Monday night, a reporter asked him, "Were you just trying to stay warm?" Ferguson replied, "Yes, sir." The Houston Chronicle quoted him as saying, "It was an accident." Ahsan Zahid, an assistant imam at Quba who recognized Ferguson as someone who hung around the property, said he believed the destruction could have been an accident. "If that's what it turns out to be, we'll be happier than if it was a hate crime," Zahid said.

Investigators told KPRC that Ferguson came to them voluntarily after he was mentioned as a suspect. According to Harris County Court records, Ferguson has been arrested more than 40 times for crimes ranging from trespassing and burglary to credit card abuse and DWI, KPRC reported.

— Jon Schuppe