This man shot at a mosque after Paris. 5 months later, he went inside and apologized.

It's not often that a hate crime has a happy ending — or something close to it.

The True Islam Symposium at the Baitul Aman, or "House of Peace," mosque. Image by Wajid Ahmed/YouTube.


Back in November, angered by the terrorist attacks in Paris, Ted Hakey Jr. fired shots at an empty mosque near his house in Meriden, Connecticut.

The Hartford Courant reported that Hakey, a former Marine, pled guilty to intentional destruction of religious property in February. He is set to be sentenced in May and faces eight to 14 months in prison.

Five months later, he did something unusually brave: He stood up in front of members of the mosque and apologized.


"I want to just apologize to everybody," Hakey said at the event, hosted by the Baitul Aman mosque. "I really have no excuses, and I don't think you could imagine the amount of regret I have, and just the heartache I caused for everybody, brought discredit upon myself, the Marine Corps, everything I stand for."

The leaders of the mosque did something even braver, something they did not have to do: They forgave him.


"What was said that day made a huge difference to us," Mohammed Qureshi, president of the mosque, told the Courant. "We greeted and we hugged just like a Muslim neighbor. We know why he did what he did — because he never heard our message. We now see it in his heart and we see it in his eyes."

Hakey told them he wishes he'd gotten to know his Muslim neighbors better before leaping to conclusions about them.

Image by Wajid Ahmed/YouTube.

Qureshi said there were tears in the room as Hakey delivered his apology. After the event, Hakey gave and received hugs from congregants, many of whom reported being moved by what appeared to be a sincere plea for forgiveness.

"We look forward to being good neighbors in the future, and having a close friendship as well," Qureshi said after Hakey's address.

Sadly, Hakey wasn't alone in resorting to anti-Islam violence after the Paris attacks.

In the month following the November killings, there were nearly 40 documented attacks on Muslims in the United States. A Washington Post report found that hate crimes against Muslims are five times more common today than they were before Sept. 11, 2001.

An anti-Islam ad in the New York City subway in 2012. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

It's a danger that makes the Baitul Aman members' willingness to forgive all the more remarkable.

Hakey said that while "sorry" doesn't excuse his actions, he's grateful to the congregation for giving him the opportunity to learn.

His biggest regret was not having come by sooner.

"I was a neighbor, and I did have fear, and the fear was always when you don't know something," Hakey said in his address. "The unknown, you are always afraid. I wish that I had come and knocked on your door, and if I had spent five minutes with you, it would have been all the difference in the world. And I didn't do that."

You can watch Hakey's entire emotional apology below.

(The important part starts at 34:02)

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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