An attorney for a U.S. Army Reserve officer who is facing charges of making death threats and leaving bacon outside a mosque in Raeford, North Carolina, has requested a court on Wednesday to give them more time to investigate the accusations, saying the accused has a distinguished military record.
Lawyer Kelly Dawkins asked the judge to hold Russell Thomas Langford's case until next month.
Langford is facing charges of ethnic intimidation, assault with a deadly weapon, going armed to the terror of the public, communicating threats, stalking and disorderly conduct, the Associated Press reports.
He was released on a $60,000 bond and is now under the supervision of his commander at the Army Reserve Command at Fort Bragg.
Dawkins said, "Major Langford has served our country extraordinarily honorably. He is a Bronze Star recipient. I think he deserves ... all the due process we can give him."
According to witnesses, Langford made death threats to the mosque's worshippers, taunted children, followed a member home and attempted to run over one of the community's members in his car.
The incidents are the first of its kind at the mosque, said community member Uzma Khan. She added that her father, retired military chaplain Mohammed Khan, was threatened by Langford at gunpoint during the incident.
She said the police are now present nearly every day to provide security at the mosque and members return to their homes immediately after services.
"There is a little bit of fear in the air, not just because of what happened at the mosque in Raeford, but what has happened across the country," she said.
Khan hopes the court will deal with fairly with the charges regardless of Langford's military record.
"For me and most of the American citizens at the mosque and in general, it actually is a reason why Major Langford should be held to a higher standard," Khan said. "Instead of being an excuse to see the situation in a lighter manner, I actually think it's more serious. He represents the states abroad. Part of defending the U.S. is also defending us."
Langford enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2003 and transferred to Army Reserve in 2008. In 2015, he earned the rank of major and has been serving at Fort Bragg since February.
Among his awards are a Bronze Star Medal and Army good conduct and achievement medals. He was deployed in Iraq from 2007 to 2008.