Seattle man will face attempted murder charges in L.A. synagogue attack

Mohamed Abdi Mohamed makes his first appearance in court in Los Angeles on Nov. 27, 2018. The suspect in a hate crime and vehicle attack at a Hancock Park synagogue has been charged with attempted murder.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A Seattle man accused of trying to run over two Jewish men outside a Hancock Park synagogue last year in what prosecutors deemed a hate-driven attack will now face attempted murder charges, court records show.

Mohamed Abdi Mohamed, 32, had been charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with a hate crime enhancement, but prosecutors filed an amended complaint Tuesday accusing him of trying to kill the two men as they exited Congregation Bais Yehuda in November.

Mohamed made a brief appearance in a downtown courtroom Thursday morning, where he pleaded not guilty to the new charges, according to Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Ceballos, who is prosecuting the case.


Ceballos said the upgraded charges were a result of further investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, but he declined to comment further. A call to Sharon Babakhan, who substituted as Mohamed’s attorney on Thursday, was not immediately returned.

Investigators have said Mohamed drove past the Hancock Park synagogue on Nov. 23 and shouted anti-Semitic slurs and other profanity in the direction of several Jewish people who were exiting a service. He then made a U-turn and barreled toward the two men as if to run them down near La Brea and Oakwood avenues, police said last year. Both men escaped unharmed.

Mohamed tried to flee but got into a car crash and was arrested a short time later, the LAPD said. Investigators recovered a knife in his car but do not believe he owned any firearms.

Relatives have said Mohamed harbored no ill-will toward the Jewish community. He had been suffering from schizophrenia since at least 2015, according to medical records reviewed by The Times.

“He was recently seeking treatment in King County [in Washington] through a program designed to provide behavioral health services to individuals with the most severe level of mental health conditions,” the statement read. “However, he did not receive the intensive medical care he needed.”

Mohamed is a U.S. citizen who entered the country as a refugee in the early 1990s with his family as they fled from a civil war in Somalia, according to a relative who requested anonymity to protect the person’s privacy.


Despite his documented history of mental illness, a judge found him competent to stand trial late last year.

Twitter: @JamesQueallyLAT