Police: Woman makes threats at Kentwood Islamic center

Woman was never inside center and no one was hurt

Kentwood, At-Tawheed Islamic Center
Kentwood police at the At-Tawheed Islamic Center after a woman allegedly demanded money and threatened violence. (Jan. 2, 2017)

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities are investigating after a woman allegedly threatened violence and demanded money at a Kentwood Islamic center.

Police were called to the At-Tawheed Islamic Center at 3357 E. Paris Ave., south of 32nd Street, at 8:46 a.m. for a report of an armed robbery.

The Kentwood Police Department says the woman demanded money from workers at the center and threatened violence. They said she claimed to have a weapon and talked about “blowing up.”

“She indicated if she doesn’t get it, she’s going to kill somebody or explode somebody or something,” said Ali Matwalli, the chairman of the board for the Islamic Center.

Police investigate after a threat at the At-Tawheed Islamic Center in Kentwood (Jan. 2, 2016)
Police investigate after a threat at the At-Tawheed Islamic Center in Kentwood (Jan. 2, 2016)

The center was locked at the time and the woman was never inside the building.

A Michigan State Police bomb squad was called in. A bomb squad robot checked the woman’s purse and jacket outside the center, as well as her car parked in the plaza next door. Kentwood police say no weapons were found.

Matwalli says he thinks the woman targeted the Islamic Center because the organization is known to help people of all faiths who are in need.

“So she is coming and thinking when you walk in, they are going to help you out,” he said.

Police said the center had helped the woman before.

“It was reported she was here last week and asked for some scarves, which the Islamic Center did provide for her. She said she had converted to Islam, but they have not had any previous contact with her at the center,” said Kentwood police Capt. Richard Roberts.

Police say the woman, a Grand Rapids resident in her 30s, was taken to the Kent County jail. The prosecutor’s office will determine if she will be charged.