HANCOCK PARK (CBSLA) — Some people in a Hancock Park neighborhood said a driver targeted them because they are Jewish. Now police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
The suspect in the case, identified as Mohammed Mohammed, was arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon.
Security video from Friday night shows the driver making a hard U-turn.
CBSLA interviewed one of the victims, who says he and his friend were the target.
“We both scrambled in different directions so he slammed on his brakes and missed us thank God,” the victim, who asked to remain anonymous, said.
A second security video shows the driver reversing and trying to hit them again.
“He clearly was going at us and it was even more clear on round two,” said the victim.
It happened on La Brea in Hancock Park, on a corner with a couple synagogues and on the Sabbath where many walk around in traditional attire.
“Why he chose us? Probably because of the yarmulkes on our heads,” the victim said.
Thankfully both the man and his friend got out of the way, but then they heard a crash.
A home security camera caught the same car plowing through a stop sign just moments later.
“This guy had a thirst for blood on his fingers,” the victim said. “You could clearly see in his face that he wanted to do something.”
A witness snapped a photo of a Koran on his dashboard, and although no one says the driver — Mohamed Mohamed — verbalized his own religion, folks in this community say targeting someone else for their religion is always a hate crime.
“I think this is just a much more violent, scary world than we all though it was,” said neighbor Michael Schwartz. “We had a few years of civility after the Holocaust and now that window is closing.”
Which is why this victim was a little disappointed that he had to ask for a sergeant before the responding officers would listen to their concerns that this was more than just a car accident.
“We live with it everyday. We live in fear and we hope and we pray that the LAPD and FBI take this more seriously than the initial response was,” the victim said.
Because this community knows the next victim may not be as agile or as lucky, and living in fear isn’t living.
“There definitely was a God watching us,” the victim said.