LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Felony charges were filed today 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, pleaded not guilty in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom to 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.
The two men, who escaped injury, were walking on a sidewalk when they were targeted about 9:30 p.m. last Friday, 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 told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Teresa Sullivan 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.''The judge granted the prosecution's request to increase Mohamed's bail from $55,000 to $500,000, pending a bail review hearing Friday.If convicted as charged, he 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, who was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, is 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.''