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Charges filed in hit-and-run outside south Minneapolis mosque

Man injured in hit-and-run at Minneapolis mosque survives, Muslim community on high alert
Man injured in hit-and-run at Minneapolis mosque survives, Muslim community on high alert 01:44

MINNEAPOLIS — A 37-year-old Minneapolis man faces charges in a hit-and-run outside a Minneapolis mosque that was caught on video.

On Friday, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office announced that James Suttles faces one felony charge of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon in connection to Wednesday's incident. 

Officers were called to the parking lot of Alhikma Islamic Center, located at 116 32nd Street West, just before noon, according to the Minneapolis Police Department.

Police say a 36-year-old man had been retrieving items from his car when a minivan drove toward him at a high rate of speed. The man attempted to run when the driver of the minivan swerved and struck him.

He suffered injuries that are not life-threatening and was transported to Hennepin Healthcare for treatment, police say.

"My only reaction was — I'm going to get hit, but just try to be on top of the car," said Osman Hamed, who was hit by the driver. "They held both hands to the steering wheel and started to go fast. At that point, it was clear, they were trying to kill me and trying to smash me into the car."

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara says investigators know the suspect and that he has a "history of trespassing and acting erratically at the mosque and in the neighborhood."

According to the criminal complaint, police were able to identify the minivan's license plate and found that it was registered to Suttles. Suttles was later arrested outside a residence listed on his driver's license. Police say he was inside the minivan and tried to start it, but officers detained him. 

Hennepin County Jail

Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty issued a statement in the announcement of charges. 

"We are concerned for the safety and wellbeing of the members of the Alhikma Islamic Center Mosque where this occurred," Moriarty said. "In light of Mr. Suttles intentionally hitting the victim with a minivan, as well as his prior violent incidents at this mosque, we are seeking high bail. This was a terrifying incident, and I am thankful the victim did not suffer more serious injuries. We are grateful to the Minneapolis Police Department for taking action quickly to investigate and arrest Mr. Suttles and we will continue to partner with their team to investigate the motive. If through further investigation we determine that we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this incident was motivated by bias we will prosecute accordingly." 

Suttles is currently in custody and faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. 

In the last three years, there have been 22 attacks on mosques in the state, which officials say lead the nation.

Faith leaders say they fear what will happen if Suttles is able to pay for bail. 

"My community right now — they're in fear," said Imam Abdirzak Kaynan. "They believe if they come to the mosque, someone will attack them."

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