John Matteson, 29, was arrested and charged with hate crimes in connection with the stabbing of a worshiper outside a Simi Valley, California, Mosque. According to reports, the victim was leaving the mosque when he was confronted and ultimately assaulted by the suspect.
At approximately 11:15 p.m. on Saturday, authorities were called to the scene of a physical altercation at a shopping center on Erringer Road.
When the officers arrived on the scene, they managed to break up the fight without further incident. Unfortunately, one of the men had been brutally stabbed.
As reported by ABC7 News, the unnamed victim suffered a stab wound to his abdomen and was rushed to a local hospital for treatment. Authorities confirmed the wound was not life-threatening and the victim is expected to survive.
It was later determined that a group of Muslims was leaving a mosque, which is adjacent to the shopping center when they were confronted by John Matteson and another unidentified suspect.
ABC7: Simi Valley police looking for 2nd suspect in alleged hate crime stabbing near mosque
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According to witness reports, both suspects fled on foot after authorities were called to the scene. Although John Matteson was ultimately apprehended, the second suspect managed to escape.
Simi Valley police Sergeant Adam Darough confirmed the stabbing is being handled as a hate crime due to “the way [the] victim was dressed and his association with the local mosque.”
Following his arrest, John Matteson was booked into the Ventura County Main Jail and charged with felony criminal threats, felony violation of civil rights, and disturbing the peace. He is currently being held on $25,000 bond.
Authorities have not confirmed whether Matteson has a criminal history. However, Ventura County Superior Court of California records indicate he was convicted of numerous crimes between October 2014 and August 2016, including multiple counts of disturbing the peace, public intoxication, and making terrorist threats.
In November 2015, John was charged with making criminal threats and vandalism. However, the charges were ultimately dismissed.
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According to reports, Matteson’s alleged victim, who was not named, was stabbed near a public “prayer area,” which is frequented by members of the city’s Muslim community.
Sergeant Darough said he and his colleagues are “quite concerned that this occurred.” He went on to say that he wants “to keep people of all faiths safe” in the Simi Valley community.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles executive Director Hussam Ayloush said he and many other Muslims in the community are simply “heartbroken.”
Although cruel comments, including those referencing nationality or race, are generally protected by the First Amendment, physical assaults based on someone’s gender, nationality, race, religion, or sexual orientation are classified as hate crimes and considered a criminal offense in the United States.
According to United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch hate crimes against Muslims Americans increased 67 percent in 2015. Unfortunately, as reported by CNN, reports of hate crimes against Muslims, in particular, have increased even further in recent months.
Although most of the crimes reported involve threatening letters and vandalism, verbal and physical confrontations are an ongoing concern.
Mosques throughout California have reportedly received a startling number of menacing letters in recent weeks. According to reports, some of the letters “threaten[ed] genocide and [referred] to Muslims as ‘vile and filthy people.'”
John Matteson has not commented on his arrest or any motive for the attack. It is also unclear at this time whether he has retained an attorney. According to court records, he is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.
[Featured Image by Chris McGrath/Getty Images]