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18-year-old charged with vandalizing Islamic Center of Charleston

An 18-year-old woman was arrested Thursday and charged with vandalizing the Islamic Center of Charleston in January.

Hailey Elizabeth Riddle, of Charleston, faces one charge of malicious injury to a place of worship, a felony for which punishment ranges from a fine to 10 years in prison.

Riddle's attorney, Scott Bischoff, said he believed a misdemeanor vandalism charge would be more appropriate because Riddle hadn't realized the building she was marking was a place of worship, and was prepared to cooperate with police.

The College of Charleston student turned herself in Thursday and her bail was set at $5,000.

"We were blindsided by it," Bischoff said. "There's no malicious intent ... we fully intend to apologize to the imam and thank the gentleman who cleaned up."

The King Street building's leader called police Jan. 31 when he found the words "utterlly blessed" and some black marks spray-painted on the side of the building.

Cameras on the north side of the building captured images of people and a vehicle there about 3:30 a.m. Jan. 29. When police released stills from the surveillance, community tips to Crime Stoppers led them to Riddle, Francis said.

Council on American-Islamic Relations communications director, Ibrahim Hooper, thanks police in a statement for a "swift and professional" investigation.

"The college condemns any act of aggression, hatred or disrespect toward any individual or place of worship based on religious affiliation," College of Charleston President Andrew Hsu said. "Out of respect of the judicial process, we will withhold judgment at this time."

The investigation is ongoing. Police declined to answer questions about another person of interest whose photo was released.

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Reach Sara Coello at 843-937-5705 and follow her on Twitter @smlcoello.

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