A man was in custody Monday for allegedly trying to run over two men outside a synagogue in a largely Jewish Wilshire-area neighborhood and making anti-Semitic remarks, in a case that has been classified by police as a hate crime.
No one was hurt in the confrontation that occurred about 9:30 p.m. Friday near La Brea and Oakwood avenues, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Mohamed Mohamed Abdi, 32, was booked on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon — the vehicle — and the case has been classified as a hate crime, Deputy Chief Horace Frank said at a news conference at LAPD headquarters.
Frank said Abdi, who remains in custody on $55,000 bail, was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and lives in the United States as a U.S. citizen. The FBI was involved in the investigation, and Abdi could face federal charges, Frank said.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said two men had just left a synagogue in the 300 block of La Brea Avenue and were walking toward Oakwood Avenue when Abdi allegedly tried to run them over with a vehicle.
“He’s yelling out hateful remarks regarding Jewish heritage and regarding these people of faith,” Moore said. “They watch him as he then turns his vehicle directly at them.”
No one was injured, and police arrested Abdi after he crashed into another vehicle while he was speeding away. A knife was found in his vehicle, but there was no indication the suspect was driving under the influence, Frank said.
“Hate in America is on the rise,” Moore said. “That has to change. And a portion of that is that every community recognize that when such acts occur, that the department — LAPD — 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.”
Moore said Abdi had been in the Los Angeles area for “a very short period of time,” but he declined to elaborate.
Moore said investigators believe Abdi 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.
“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,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz.
“We will continue to fight anti-Semitism, bigotry, and we will continue to shine light on the darkness of hate,” Koretz said.
For more local news, a teacher at a charter high school in Van Nuys was arrested.