SIMI VALLEY (CBSLA.com) — One person has been arrested in connection with a stabbing near an Islamic center that is being investigated as a hate crime, police said.
The incident unfolded just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday after police say the suspect confronted worshipers exiting the center on Erringer Road in Simi Valley.
According to police, a fight ensued between multiple people, and one person was stabbed.
The suspect was arrested on a hate crime charge based on remarks allegedly made, authorities said. Another suspect is at large.
“I’ve been here about 35 years and this is the first time I’ve heard of a hate crime of this magnitude,” said Omar Jubran, a Muslim imam who lives in Simi Valley.
According to the Ventura County Sheriff’s website, 29-year-old John Matteson, now identified as the suspect, is facing two counts for criminal threats and violation of civil rights.
CBS2’s Greg Mills spoke to Matteson’s heartbroken father.
“I lost my son already 10,000 times,” John Matteson Sr. said, “It’s a broken record. It keeps happening over and over again.”
The father added, “I pray to God, either need to fix him or take him.”
Leah Setmire owns a children’s play center that shares a parking lot with the house of worship.
Sunday, she hosted a Christmas boutique there.
“It’s disappointing to hear, I’ve got little kids here and it’s a small community and we’re having hate crimes,” Setmire said, “It’s not something I want here.”
The man who was stabbed was taken to a local hospital and is reported to be in stable condition.
The suspect was also hurt and is also reportedly in stable condition.
“[This incident] breaks my heart. We all have the rights to worship as we see fit and it just isn’t right,” said Annette Pearson, a Simi Valley resident.
This sentiment was echoed by the imam.
“I cannot fathom the fact that we have a hate crime against our beliefs – in Simi Valley,” he said.