A stabbing near a Southern California mosque was a hate crime, police said over the weekend. The Saturday night attack outside Masjid Al-Rasool mosque put a victim in Simi Valley Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to police.
The incident occurred behind a Smart & Final market across the street from the house of worship at about 11:15 p.m., according to the Simi Valley Police Department. “The preliminary investigation indicated that the victim was targeted because of his appearance and association with the mosque,” according to a police statement.
Police said two suspects confronted a group of worshippers who had left the mosque and were walking on a sidewalk; an argument turned into a fight, and the victim was cut in the abdomen. “We're looking into perhaps the way our victim was dressed and his association with the local mosque,” Simi Valley police Sgt. Adam Darough told reporters.
After officers checked the area one suspect, later identified as 29-year-old John Matteson of Simi Valley, was arrested on suspicion of disturbing the peace, making criminal threats and committing a hate crime, according to police.
“It should be noted that the suspect sustained multiple injuries during the fight with the victims’ friends and was transported to the Simi [Valley] Hospital for his injuries,” according to the statement.
A second suspect in dark clothing is still being sought.
Today Bend the Arc, a national organization inspired by Jewish values, condemned the attack and related it to the election of Donald Trump. “People of all faiths should be respected and able to worship without fear of being harmed,” CEO Stosh Cotler said in a statement. “The increase in hate crimes committed since the election of Donald Trump signals that many of his supporters feel emboldened to turn his hateful rhetoric into violent action.”
Anyone with information on the attack was asked to call detectives at (805) 583-6950.