PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Investigators have taken a suspect into custody in the shooting of a cab driver who is Muslim in the city’s Hazelwood neighborhood in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day.
Pittsburgh Police announced the arrest at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. They identify the suspect as 26-year-old Anthony Mohamed of Hazelwood.
“This morning at 10:45 a.m., we arrested Anthony Mohamed,” said Lt. Victor Joseph, of Pittsburgh Police. “After consultation with the District Attorney’s Office, Mohamed was charged with criminal attempted homicide.”
He is also charged with aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person.
Mohamed appeared in City Court Wednesday night, and his bail was set at $500,000.
The taxi driver, who is a Moroccan immigrant, was shot in the back after police say he and Mohamed got into a discussion about the driver’s ethnic background and whether the driver supported ISIS.
According to reports, it all started outside the Rivers Casino where the 38-year-old taxi driver picked up a passenger. Police say surveillance video shows Mohamed getting into the cab.
The driver says the man began asking about ISIS and his background, asking whether he was “a Pakistani guy,” and also allegedly mocked the Prophet Muhammad.
When the taxi arrived at the man’s home, the suspect reportedly went inside because he told the driver he forgot his wallet. A few minutes later, police say the man allegedly emerged from the house carrying a rifle.
When the driver saw the weapon, he sped away, only to hear gunshots. One of the shots shattered the back window of his taxi. The driver was struck in the back by the bullet as he drove between Flowers Avenue and Tecumseh Street.
After he was wounded, the driver was able to drive a few more blocks to Second Avenue and Mansion Street where he flagged down a passing motorist for help. He was then taken to the hospital and continues to recover.
The driver is not being identified for his safety.
The Pittsburgh chapter of CAIR, the Council on Islamic-American Relations, has asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the shooting, because it believes it falls into the hate crime category.
CAIR’s local President Safdar Khwaja told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti Wednesday night while he applauded police for making a quick arrest, the investigation should continue.
Khwaja said the cab driver “was in shock and pain” right after the shooting, and that may have been why the driver didn’t talk about a motive when initially questioned by police.
Mohamed is not facing charges related to possible ethnic intimidation.
Pittsburgh Police Lt. Victor Joseph, in announcing Mohamed’s arrest, predicted “it would not be a prolonged investigation.”
“We are still going through evidence, and once all the evidence is investigated, it will be concluded,” said Lt. Joseph.
Mohamed was being held Wednesday in the Allegheny County Jail. Authorities didn’t know whether he had a lawyer.
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