Minneapolis police arrest man in hit-and-run at mosque, investigating possible hate crime

A man suspected of striking a man with his car in a Minnesota mosque parking lot, in what police believe was a hate crime, was arrested Wednesday night.

At 9:30 p.m., hours after the hit-and-run occurred at the Alhikma Islamic Center, police arrested James Evan Suttles, 37, after finding him in his car, states a press release from the Minneapolis Police Department.

“I am proud of the swift and strong response by members of the Minneapolis Police Department,” said Police Chief Brian O'Hara in a statement. “Within hours, this suspect was in custody, and that will help put our community at ease. This arrest is a testament to the hard work and determination of our officers and investigators.”

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Driver sped toward man in minivan

According to the police report, on Wednesday, just before noon, a man, 36, was retrieving some things from his car that was in the parking lot of the mosque in Minneapolis when a minivan sped toward him. The man ran, but the minivan swerved and hit him, causing apparent non-life-threatening injuries.

The suspect fled the scene, and the victim was transferred to a nearby hospital.

Police investigating possible hate crime

The victim is a staffer for the Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota chapter. Both police and CAIR believe the incident was a targeted hate crime.

Suttles has a history of "trespassing and acting erratically at the mosque and in the neighborhood," said police, and according to CAIR-MN, the suspect has been accused of harassing the mosque and worshippers for the past three years.

"Based on the information gathered by our investigators so far, I am concerned that this crime may have been motivated by bias," said O’Hara. "We won’t tolerate any crime in our city. But hate crimes and crimes against our houses of worship are particularly troubling because of the very real widespread fear they generate and the potential division they create among our residents."

Julia is a trending reporter for USA TODAY. She has covered various topics, from local businesses and government in her hometown, Miami, to tech and pop culture. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on X, formerly TwitterInstagram and TikTok: @juliamariegz

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Minneapolis police arrest man in hit-and-run incident at a mosque