Roger Stockham, 63, lived in Imperial Beach until about a month ago, neighbors said, and was a different man after being stabbed in his home last fall.
Stockham was arrested Jan. 24 by police in Dearborn, MI, in the parking lot of the Islamic Center of America where hundreds of people were attending a funeral. The combined house of worship and school is one of the largest mosques in the United States.
High-end class C fireworks, including M-80s, were reportedly found in his car, though police are not reporting how much.
Stockham was arraigned on Wednesday, Jan. 26, on counts of a threat of terrorism as well as possession of explosives with unlawful intent.
Stockham lived in Imperial Beach on the 600 block of Seventh Street. Check out the attached video to hear from neighbors Arturo, Alex and Heather Adams.
“I never knew I had a neighbor like that, but I feel safer that he’s locked up now. Don’t have to worry about any terrorist threats over here,” Arturo said.
Heather and her husband, Alex Adams, called him “very nice” and a “quiet gentleman.”
“Whenever me and my husband would walk by to go to the corner store he would wave and we’d always say hi,” she said.
Things changed this fall when the couple said he was stabbed in his apartment one night. Details are still being confirmed with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
“He came back and he was just a really quiet guy, and he never talked to us ever since,” Alex Adams said.
Stockham came back from the hospital two months after the attack and left about a month ago, the Adams said.
“I’ve been here almost a year now and this is very out of the ordinary around here. I mean you’ll get your usual cops roll by, arrest somebody, minor things,” Heather said. “This is kind of just out there. Something you never thought could be in your own neighborhood or next door to you.”
Stockham was said to regularly spend time at the VFW Post 5477, whose manager declined comment.
Stockham’s member biography, which was available on vfwpost5477.com until Sunday night, is no longer available.
Members of the VFW and its post commander have declined to comment.
Police shared the incident with mosque leaders Tuesday, said Dearborn Patch. Although an arrest was made before any damage was done, the center and Dearborn Police are working together to ensure that all members of the mosque feel safe coming to worship.
“We alerted everyone at our Friday prayer, and we’ll be continuing to announce it during the week,” relayed center Executive Administrator Kassem Allie. “Of course, there is some concern … but we’re working closely with the police department to address safety concerns.”
Allie said this is the first time something like this has ever happened at the Islamic Center.
According to police, at 4:45 p.m. Jan. 24, a “concerned local business owner” called to inform them that a patron in his establishment “had been making some suspicious comments about an explosion at a mosque in the area.”
“Upon leaving the establishment, the suspect was seen taking pictures of the mosque at the Islamic Center of America building, which was in close proximity to the caller’s business,” police said in a press release sent out Jan. 31. “The suspect then entered a tan vehicle with California plates and proceeded toward the mosque. The caller, sensing the potential seriousness of the situation, immediately called the Dearborn Police.”
Police responded immediately, and discovered Stockham wearing a black ski mask and driving near the mosque in the vehicle. He was arrested, and investigation of his van revealed intoxicants, spray paint and several “class C” fireworks.