A man has been arrested on suspicion of committing an anti-Muslim hate crime and another was being sought by authorities after the weekend stabbing of a worshiper near a Southern California mosque, police said on Monday.
Coming amid a nationwide surge in harassment and intimidation of Muslims reported by the FBI, the incident occurred late Saturday night in the town of Simi Valley, about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles, according to police Commander Robert Brill.
The confrontation began as a verbal altercation that escalated into a physical fight between the two suspects and the victim, who had attended prayer services at the Masjid Al-Rasool mosque that evening, and a number of his friends, Brill said.
Officers responding to the incident found the victim suffering from non-life-threatening stab wounds, but the two suspects had fled, Brill said.
One, identified as John Matteson, 29, was soon located and taken into custody. He was treated at an area hospital for injuries from the fight and later booked into the Ventura County jail on felony charges of committing a hate crime and making criminal threats, as well as a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace, Brill said.
"The preliminary investigation indicated the victim was targeted because of his appearance and association with the mosque," police said in a statement.
The second man, also in his late 20s, was still at large, Brill said.