Police Searching For Man Who Stabbed Worshipper Near California Mosque

Police were searching Monday for a suspect in a stabbing over the weekend near a mosque in Simi Valley, California, which they say was part of an attack on a group of worshippers for which they already took one man into custody.

Simi Valley Police Sgt. Travis Coffey said John Henry Matteson, who has already been arrested, approached a group of worshippers on Saturday night alongside another as-yet-unidentified man, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The pair allegedly began yelling slurs at the worshippers and the confrontation escalated into a fight, according to the report. Though police said Matteson was involved, they believe the man responsible for the stabbing—the victim of which is in stable condition in the hospital—is still at large.

Coffey told the LA Times that the attacks were likely not pre-meditated, and may have been racially- rather than religiously-motivated.

“Our belief is they hadn’t staked out the mosque at this point,” he said. “It appears to be an opportunity crime.”

On Sunday, the LA Times reported that police had originally responded to reports of a fight at a mall near the mosque.

“During the fight, [the suspect] stabbed the victim,” Sgt. Adam Darough said.

Matteson was arrested on suspicion of committing a hate crime, making criminal threats and fighting in public, according to the newspaper, while the man still on the loose would likely face assault charges.