Man held for allegedly stabbing worshipper near mosque

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2016 10:54 PM

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — A man has been arrested on suspicion of committing a hate crime after police say he stabbed a worshipper near a Simi Valley mosque.

Police said reports of people fighting sent them to a shopping center parking lot near the mosque around 11:15 p.m. Saturday. Officers separated the combatants and found that one person had been stabbed.

The fight began after a man confronted a worshipper and got into a verbal dispute, police said.

John Matteson, 29, was arrested nearby, police said.

The victim had non-life threatening injuries and was taken to a hospital in stable condition, police said.

Matteson remained jailed Sunday on suspicion of making criminal threats, violating civil rights and disturbing the peace by fighting, according to a Ventura County sheriff's website.

"We're investigating whether or not this was instigated by (the victim's) appearance and the association with the mosque," Sgt. Adam Darough told the Los Angeles Times. "We're quite concerned that this occurred. We want to keep people of all faiths safe in the city."

Members of the community said that the stabbing had occurred near a prayer area where locals had gathered, Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the newspaper.

Ayloush said he did not know the exact address or type of building where the gathering took place.

Since election day, CAIR has received almost 200 reports of hate incidents directed at Muslims in America, Ayloush said.

"It's hard to believe that in this day and age we still have to deal with such hate and violence in our country, and especially in a place as diverse as Southern California," Ayloush said.

Matteson is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.