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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A motorist accused of trying to run down two men leaving a Los Angeles synagogue pleaded not guilty Tuesday to felony charges with a hate crime allegation.
Mohamed Abdi Mohamed, 32, is charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
Deputy Police Chief Horace Frank has said Mohamed yelled anti-Semitic remarks at the men Friday night, made a U-turn and drove at them before they took cover behind a car and an electrical box.
The suspect made another U-turn and targeted the men again before crashing into another car in the Wilshire-area neighborhood, Frank said.
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Nobody was hurt.
Mohamed, who was born in Somalia, is a U.S. citizen who lives in Seattle.
Deputy District Attorney Richard Ceballos said during the arraignment Tuesday that authorities believe Mohamed traveled to California to commit the crime.
An attorney from the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office countered that the prosecution’s theory was speculative.
Police Chief Michel Moore has said investigators believe Mohamed was acting alone and not as a member of a group.
An investigation that includes the FBI was continuing into his background and associations.
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The judge granted the prosecution’s request to increase Mohamed’s bail from $55,000 to $500,000, pending a hearing Friday.
If convicted as charged, he could face nearly nine years in state prison.
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