“BLACK LIVES MATTER,” reads the note. “A. Sterling P. Castile,” it says, in reference to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, black men who were killed by police in Baton Rouge and Minnesota earlier this month.
“F— The Police!!!” the note adds.
A picture of the message shows that it was hand-written on notebook paper using black ink.
Chitwood told The Post that the incident doesn’t reflect the relationship between law enforcement and local residents.
“This was the work of an extremist who, for whatever reason, was either motivated by an anti-police sentiment or it was someone trying to cast blame on Black Lives Matter,” he said. “We work really really rally hard with our community and I’ve gotten dozen phone calls of support. I know that the overwhelming majority of our community and overwhelming majority of this country support police officers, but there is a group of domestic terrorists who are fanatical and who are willing to give their lives to take other people out.”
Police responded to reports of the fire around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, according to the statement.
Citing a police report, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that a nearby resident told police he heard sounds of a car door opening before the fire began, while another person told police they heard a window shattering.
By the time authorities arrived, the cruiser — which was unoccupied at the time — was “fully engulfed,” police said.
Chitwood told the News-Journal that the vehicle erupted in flames, suggesting that the fire was ignited by a “Molotov cocktail.”
Nobody was injured in the fire, which caused more than $20,000 in damage to the vehicle.
“The city vehicle was placed at the location on the street as a ghost car,” the statement said.
The goal, he said, was to deter anyone planning to target Muslims.
The department will not replace the damaged vehicle with another cruiser in front of the mosque, Chitwood told the paper.
“We were in bed and I heard a ‘boom’ noise,” a resident who lives near the mosque told the News-Journal via email.”It sounded like a window being broken and I thought it could be someone trying to break into my boyfriend’s car. So I looked out the window and didn’t see anyone near his car then I looked left and saw the police car was on fire.”
The emailer, who wished to remain anonymous, added: “The police car has been parked there since the Orlando shootings. They move it every now and then but it’s always empty. My boyfriend called 911 and it took so long before they got there that by the time they did the entire car was covered in fire. It took a bit to get the fire out.”
Police continue to review surveillance video from the area but noted that the state fire marshal will lead the investigation because it appears to be arson. If arrested, Chitwood told the News-Journal, the suspect would most probably face arson charges.
Thus far, police said, they have no suspects or persons of interest in connection with the fire.
This post has been updated.