SIMI VALLEY (CBSLA.com) – A known gang member has been arrested connection with a stabbing over the weekend near a mosque in Simi Valley, in what police are investigating as a potential hate crime.
The Simi Valley Police Department reports that 26-year-old Marco De La Cruz was taken into custody during a SWAT raid at 5 a.m. Thursday in the 1500 block of Kearney Avenue. Cruz was already wanted on outstanding felony warrants and has an extensive criminal history that includes weapons charges, police said.
At approximately 11:15 p.m. Saturday, officers responded to a fight behind a Smart & Final store at 1856 Erringer Rd. to find a stabbing victim. Officers scoured the area for suspects and immediately arrested John Matteson, 29, of Simi Valley. They learned a second suspect, identified as Cruz, had escaped.
A preliminary investigation revealed Matteson may have confronted worshipers as they exited nearby Masjid Al-Rasool Mosque, leading to the fight.
According to Simi Valley police, Matteson and Cruz are neighbors. Police raided both their homes Thursday, but would not comment on what evidence, if any, was obtained in connection with the case.
Matteson was booked into the Ventura County Jail on multiple charges. He was released on bail Wednesday.
Cruz was booked Thursday on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, criminal threats, civil rights violation and parole violation.
The stabbing victim was treated at the Simi Valley Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. The exact circumstances that precipitated the fight were not disclosed.