Mohamed Abdi Mohamed is the 32-year-old suspect accused of trying to run down two Jewish men in Los Angeles with his vehicle. The incident happened on November 23, 2018, as the two worshippers left a synagogue in the neighborhood of Hancock Park.
The two pedestrians were able to jump out of the way and avoided being struck. Surveillance video then captured the subject crashing into another vehicle as he attempted to speed away. Mohamed was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed the case was being investigated as a hate crime. The FBI has also joined the investigation, as officials look into the suspect’s background. Officials said Mohamed was born in Somalia and had been in the Los Angeles area for only a few days prior to the incident.
A mental competency hearing was scheduled for December 14. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Mohamed’s public defender questioned whether his client was fit to stand trial.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. LAPD: Mohamed Mohamed Yelled Anti-Semitic Remarks at the Two Jewish Men, Before Abruptly Making a U-Turn & Speeding Directly Toward the Victims
Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief France Horace laid out the course of events during a news conference on Monday, November 26. He explained that two men, ages 37 and 57, left the synagogue located at 360 North La Brea Avenue around 9:30 p.m. and walked toward Oakwood Avenue.
They observed a vehicle traveling south on La Brea. They told police that the driver, now identified as Mohamed Mohamed, yelled obscenities at them, including negative remarks about their Jewish heritage. One of the victims, who did not wish to be identified, told CBS Los Angeles that they assumed the driver targeted them “probably because of the yarmulkes on our heads.” The men crossed the street but continued to watch Mohamed’s vehicle.
As explained by Deputy Chief Horace, the victims described seeing the vehicle run a red light and do a sudden U-turn. The victims said the vehicle then drove straight at them at a high rate of speed. They managed to jump out of the way; one man got behind a pole and the second behind an electrical box. Police Chief Michael Moore credited the two men for their vigilance, stressing that their alertness had likely saved their lives.
The driver made a second U-turn before speeding away. One of those U-turns was captured by a surveillance camera, which you can see in the video above.
2. The Suspect Crashed Into Another Vehicle After Allegedly Trying to Hit the Two Jewish Men
Mohamed Mohamed tried to flee the scene after police said he tried to hit the two Jewish men at La Brea and Oakwood Avenues. But he didn’t get far.
Mohamed crashed into another vehicle after failing to slow down at a stop sign at Oakwood and Highland Avenues. ABC Los Angeles obtained the video of the collision, which was recorded by a home security camera. Both cars were totaled. You can see that video above.
NBC Los Angeles reported that Mohamed got out of the vehicle and began yelling at the other car’s occupants. He was allegedly saying more anti-semitic remarks. The Los Angeles Police Department responded and arrested Mohamed for Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Luckily, no one was seriously injured.
3. Mohamed Mohamed Was Born in Somalia & Officials Are Investigating His Background; The LAPD Said Mohamed Appears to Have Acted Alone
Deputy Police Chief Frank Horace shared that 32-year-old Mohamed Mohamed was born January 1, 1986, in Mogadishu, Somalia. During the news conference, Horace initially said that Mohamed had become a U.S. citizen. But a few minutes later, when reporters asked again about Mohamed’s nationality, Chief Michael Moore said they were not sure whether he was an American citizen.
Moore said it appears Mohamed had been in the Los Angeles area for only a few days before the incident outside the synagogue. But they were not sure how long Mohamed had been living in the United States.
Horace stressed that the LAPD, along with the FBI, were conducting a thorough investigation of Mohamed’s background. But as of November 26, they were not releasing additional information about his history or criminal record, citing the ongoing investigation. They did share that at the time of the incident, Mohamed did not have any outstanding warrants.
4. The FBI Has Joined the Case, Which Has Been Categorized as a Hate Crime & Police Said It Was Possible Mohamed Could Face Federal Charges
Mohamed Mohamed was booked into jail after midnight on November 24, 2018. As of December 13, he was being held at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, according to inmate records. Bail has been increased to $1 million.
Los Angeles police shared that there was no indication that alcohol played a role in the crash. Mohamed did not have any firearms in the car, though police did recover a knife.
A witness shared a photo of a Koran that was allegedly on Mohamed’s dashboard and shared it with CBS Los Angeles. But witnesses told police that Mohamed did not make any reference to his own religious beliefs, and officers did not mention it during the news conference.
Chief Moore explained that at this point, the evidence indicated that Mohamed had acted alone. They are investigating his background, whether he has any ties to criminal organizations and looking into his travel history. But early on in the investigation, the incident does not appear to have been pre-planned.
Mohamed faces a felony charge of Assault with a Deadly Weapon. But police said Mohamed could also potentially face federal charges. The incident was being investigated as a hate crime.
5. Los Angeles Police Chief: ‘Hate in America is On the Rise & That Has to Change’
The Los Angeles Police Department and City Councilman Paul Koretz stressed during the news conference that they are committed to keeping residents safe against hatred. Chief Michael Moore stated, “Hate in America is on the rise. That has to change.” He added that law enforcement agencies would “bring the full weight of the law” against those convicted of hate crimes.
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz echoed that sentiment. He thanked the police for their swift response and thanked witnesses for reacting quickly and calling for help. He also stated, “I want to make it clear to the Jewish community and all residents of Los Angeles that this type of hate and violence will not stand. My colleagues and I will do everything in our power to make sure our communities are protected and secure. We’ll continue to fight anti-Semitism and bigotry and to shine a light on the darkness of hate.”