Man who claimed to be a king arrested in connection with hate graffiti on L.A. mosque

A police officer stands with his hands on his hips outside a mosque with graffiti on its pillars.
A security camera captured images of a man using marker to write anti-Islamic words on the Islamic Center of Southern California in Koreatown early Sunday, police said.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles police arrested a man on suspicion of defacing a mosque in Koreatown with anti-Islamic hate words, Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday.

A surveillance camera had captured video of a man using a permanent marker to write on the Islamic Center of Southern California, a mosque and cultural center on Vermont Avenue, about 12:40 a.m. Sunday.

Carlos Moran, 43, was taken into custody in the 500 block of Shatto Place near the mosque, Moore said, adding that he claimed he was a king and appeared to be struggling with mental health issues. The chief described the writings as hate-motivated. Police received a tip about the suspect’s whereabouts hours after releasing a screen grab of the surveillance footage, Moore said.


The district attorney’s office has filed felony vandalism charges against Moran, he said.

Surveillance image of a man wearing a black beanie, black shirt, black shorts, black pants and black shoes.
Los Angeles police released this surveillance image of a man suspected of defacing the Islamic Center of Southern California.
(Los Angeles Police Department)

The vandalism occurred during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, which began in late March. Muslims perform daily prayers and refrain from eating or drinking from shortly before sunrise until sunset during the month to bring them closer to God.

“This is an appalling act of vandalism targeting the center where innocent individuals gather for their daily religious observances,” the Islamic Center of Southern California said in a statement, adding that the community was “deeply saddened and disturbed.”

Speaking to reporters after Tuesday’s meeting of the Police Commission, Moore denounced the “blatant and hateful act of violence.”

“Why does the department spend so much time on this type of case? And it’s because it is oftentimes a precursor to further acts and acts of violence,” Moore said. “We know there’s an onramp, if you will, to extremism, an onramp to people escalating in their actions to where they actual commit violent crimes.”

Moore added that while the suspect appeared to be unhoused, that had nothing to do with his actions.

With Ramadan, Passover and Easter all coinciding, the Los Angeles Police Department had deployed additional resources to patrol houses of worship.

Three police officers and a man stand and talk inside a mosque.
Police Chief Michel Moore, center, arrives for a news conference at the Islamic Center of Southern California on Monday.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Omar Ricci, a spokesman for the Islamic Center, noted that an imam in New Jersey was stabbed during Sunday prayers at a mosque. He also noted an Israeli police raid on Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem last week.

“All of this has come together, and it caused certainly a lot of pain for us as a community,” he said.

The holy month of Ramadan coincides with the longest drought on record in Somalia, leaving many Muslims struggling to break their fasts.

April 1, 2023

Hate crimes in Los Angeles County have been on the rise, surging to their highest level in nearly two decades, according to the most recent annual report by the county’s Commission on Human Relations.

According to the report, released in December, there were 786 victims of hate crimes in 2021, an increase of 23% since 2020 and the most since 2002. More than half of the crimes were motivated by racism.

Hate crimes motivated by religion increased by 29%, from 86 in 2020 to 111 in 2021, and made up 14% of all hate crimes. Incidents against Muslims, Jews, Christians and Scientologists all rose.


L.A. County documented 786 hate crime victims in 2021 — the most since 2002. Blacks, Latinos, Jews and LGBTQ people were among the most-targeted groups.

Dec. 7, 2022

Moore said Monday that Los Angeles had seen a slight decrease in reported hate crimes this year. The city is on pace for a 19% decrease from 2022 to 2023.

“It’s a glimmer of hope, but it’s also one we should recognize and use as momentum,” Moore said. “We don’t have to accept the status quo.”

Times staff writers Summer Lin and Jeong Park contributed to this report.