With a defense attorney expressing doubt about the defendant’s mental competency, criminal proceedings were suspended Friday against a Seattle resident who allegedly tried to run over two men outside a synagogue in a Jewish neighborhood in the Wilshire area while yelling anti-Semitic remarks.
Mohamed Abdi Mohamed, 32, is expected to undergo an evaluation to determine if he is competent to stand trial on two felony 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.
The two men, who escaped injury, were walking on a sidewalk when they were targeted about 9:30 p.m. Nov. 23, 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.”
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.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Deborah Brazil ordered Mohamed’s bail to be doubled from $500,000 to $1 million.
Earlier this week, Deputy District Attorney Richard Ceballos told another judge that authorities believe Mohamed traveled to California to commit the crime, while an attorney from the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office countered that the prosecution’s theory was “purely speculative.”
If convicted as charged, Mohamed 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 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, who was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, is a U.S. citizen, Frank said.