The attempted killing of two men in front of a Los Angeles synagogue on Friday – allegedly by a Somali immigrant – is treated as a potential hate crime while federal officials are using it to establish the motive for the murder. attack.
Mohamed Mohamed Abdi, 32, was arrested in front of the Bais Yehuda congregation after the incident that occurred around 9 pm. Friday, the Los Angeles Police Department said Monday.
Two men reported seeing a vehicle driven by a man, identified as Abdi, who shouted anti-Semitic insults "referring to their Jewish heritage" before firing a red light, turning around and accelerating towards them. "really, really fast". "
"We knew he was coming to us because, when he turned around, he was burning rubber, so he also caught our attention," FOX11 told one of the victims. who wished not to be identified. "He came a few inches from us and we both rushed in different directions, he backed up and tried to hit me while my friend was running in the synagogue."
A surveillance video broadcast by the police shows the car, allegedly driven by Abdi, making a sudden U-turn before rushing on the two men. In another video, one can see the car crashing against another vehicle two blocks away.
The victim told FOX11 that he had then seen Abdi try to escape.
"The car was completely disabled and it kept trying to make it work," the man told the media.
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No one was injured during the incident, police said. The 32-year-old man was arrested shortly after and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, but also faces a special aggravation of hate crime, according to the LAPD.
Abdi is an American citizen from Somalia, but he had only been to the Los Angeles area a few days earlier, LAPD chief Michael Moore told a press conference on Monday. Abdi, 32, had emigrated to the Seattle area several years ago and recently rented a car to travel to Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported. It was not known yet whether he knew anyone in the city or why he had made the trip.
There was no evidence that Abdi acted with others as part of a conspiracy, but the department was working with the FBI and other members of the Joint Terrorism Working Group to investigate. more about the incident, said Mr. Moore.
"We are not naïve, to the extent that he could have relationships or connections with other like-minded people, and we are aware of it and our investigative efforts will exploit his travels, his background , its social network accounts, a spectrum approach to that, "said Moore.
Abdi was also found with a knife, which was "very worrying", according to LAPD deputy head Horace Frank.
Mr Moore said recent incidents, such as the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue last month that killed 11 people, show that the attack attempt on Friday could be part of a growing problem. said Mr. Moore.
"Hatred in America is on the rise," he added. "It must change."