Felony charges were filed Tuesday against a Seattle resident who allegedly tried to run over two men outside a synagogue in a Jewish neighborhood in the Wilshire area last week while yelling anti-Semitic remarks.
Mohamed Abdi Mohamed, 32, is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on two counts of assault with a deadly weapon — a vehicle — and a hate crime allegation stemming from the alleged confrontation near La Brea and Oakwood Avenues about 9:30 p.m. last Friday.
The two men, who escaped injury, were walking on a sidewalk at the time they were targeted, according to authorities.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the pair had just left a synagogue in the 300 block of La Brea Avenue and were walking toward Oakwood Avenue when Mohamed allegedly tried to run them over. He was arrested by Los Angeles police that night.
“He’s yelling out hateful remarks regarding Jewish heritage and regarding these people of faith,” the police chief said. “They watch him as he then turns his vehicle directly at them.”
Deputy District Attorney Richard Ceballos will ask that Mohamed’s bail be increased from $55,000 to $500,000.
If convicted as charged, the defendant could face up to eight years and eight months in state prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
“Hate in America is on the rise,” Moore told reporters on Monday. “That has to change. And a portion of that is that every community recognize that when such acts occur, that the department — LAPD — (and) that our federal and state partners will bring the full weight of the law to hold accountable those who believe that there would be some other type of response.”
The police chief said Mohamed had been in the Los Angeles area for “a very short period of time,” but declined to elaborate.
Investigators believe he was acting as a “lone individual” and not as a member of a group, but the investigation was continuing into his background and associations, including his social media connections, according to Moore.
Mohamed was taken into custody after he allegedly crashed into another vehicle while he was speeding away. A knife was found in his vehicle, according to LAPD Deputy Chief Horace Frank, who said the case has been classified as a hate crime.
Mohamed was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and lives in the United States as a U.S. citizen, Frank said.
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz said: “I want to make it clear to the Jewish community and to all residents of Los Angeles that this type of hate and violence will not stand, and that my colleagues and I will do everything in our power to make sure that our communities are protected and secure. We will continue to fight anti-Semitism, bigotry, and we will continue to shine light on the darkness of hate.”