Muslim community leaders came together on Thursday to speak out against an attack on three San Diego Muslim women over the weekend.
“I think the important thing to realize here is that we are going beyond this incident that happened; you see different members of the Muslim community who are here because the larger picture here is Islamophobia,” said Ismahan Abdullahi, Executive Director of MAS-PACE.
According to investigators, the attack happened on Sunday afternoon near Columbia and Beech streets in Little Italy. Three women dressed in hijabs were confronted by 50-year-old Kyle Allen.
Police said Allen shoved one of the women, slapped another woman and then tried to take off one of the women’s hijab from her head. During this confrontation, Allen also allegedly made a racial remark.
Passersby followed Allen to his apartment and directed police to the area. When police knocked on Allen’s door, he answered the door with a hand gun. Police gave Allen commands, he complied, and was taken to jail.
Police then searched Allen’s apartment and found a weapon with a silencer.
The incident rattled the local Muslim community. San Diego leaders for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-San Diego), the Muslim Leadership Council of San Diego, MAS-PACE, and the Islamic Center of San Diego set up a press conference Thursday to denounce the incident and call for justice.
Leaders of the group said they have been in contact with law enforcement about the incident and will be meeting with the District Attorney's (DA) office.
"We want to make sure that this incident, while we are taking it seriously, we are focusing on it. And, as a community, we have our own processes of healing and making sure the community is staying vigilant at the same time, as making sure the community is strong despite this incident that has happened," said Abdullahi.
"And, we want to make sure as a community, beyond the Muslim community, that we are making sure that justice is met here. Making sure that we are following through with this case -- and the DA’s office is considering this a hate crime -- and then we can have more of those internal conversations," she added.
Allen is facing three counts of misdemeanor battery, three counts of violating civil rights by force or threat, and a charge for possession of a weapon silencer.
He's set to appear in court on Oct. 21.