Driver in alleged Los Angeles synagogue car ramming attack charged with hate crime

(JTA) – A Somali-born man from Seattle was charged with a hate crime for allegedly attempting to run over two people outside of a Los Angeles synagogue.

Mohamed Mohamed, 32, who reportedly is a U.S. citizen, was charged on Tuesday with two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon with a vehicle, and a hate crime and is being held on $55,000 bail. He pleaded not guilty.

He reportedly had been in the Los Angeles area for just a few days when he allegedly launched the Nov. 23 attack. It is believed that he acted alone and was not connected to a terror group.

A security camera video shows Mohamed trying to run down the two men, ages 37 and 57, leaving the Bais Yehuda Shul, and then reversing and trying to hit them again. The victims wore clothing typically worn by Orthodox Jews on Shabbat. The driver also reportedly shouted anti-Semitic epithets at them. He was stopped when his car ran a stop sign and slammed into another vehicle.

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said the fact that the two men realized that the driver was deliberately accelerating while driving in their direction saved their lives, CNN reported.

Mohamed faces a maximum sentence of eight years and eight months in state prison if convicted.

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