Ted Hakey Jr. entered a plea deal in Hartford federal court for the hate crime of firing shots into an empty Meriden mosque in the early morning hours of Nov. 14, 2015 after the Paris terror attacks.
More than a dozen members of the Baitul Aman Mosque were in court as the ex-Marine waived his right to a trial.
Federal guidelines suggest Hakey Jr. serve 8 to 14 months in prison for pleading guilty to intentional destruction of a religious property with a dangerous weapon.
"Mr. Hakey, do you have anything you would like to say to the mosque?" NBC Connecticut asked as he left court.
"Not allowed to speak at all yet, but after sentencing I’ll be open to talk to everybody," Hakey Jr. said.
U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea scheduled sentencing for June 7.
"A core mission of the Justice Department is to protect every person against racially, religiously and ethnically motivated violence and intimidation," said U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly.
"Individuals who commit hateful, divisive and violent acts against others in violation of federal law will be prosecuted. All of us have a right to worship freely and without fear of violence."
Hakey Jr. fired four shots with a high-powered rifle at the mosque from his house next door, federal prosecutors said.
In addition to ballistic evidence, prosecutors said they built their case based on social media posts by Hakey Jr. showing anti-Muslim sentiment.
Court documents show after learning about the Paris attacks, Hakey posted on Facebook, “What is gonna be the breaking point to go “weapons free” against Islam?”
"Today’s guilty plea affirms that law enforcement and our criminal justice system are clear, that intolerance will not prevail," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia Ferrick.
As part of the plea deal, Hakey Jr. forfeits the rifle, which was already confiscated, and he must pay $5,130 in damages to the mosque.
"If somebody has been ignorant about something, then you know, hopefully once they are educated they will be repentant and forgiveness actually helps," said Dr. Muhammad Quereshi, the president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Connecticut.
Hakey Jr. is out on $400,000 bond.