A man accused of stabbing a Boston rabbi nine times in an attack last week has been charged with hate crimes, the Suffolk County district attorney said.
Rabbi Shlomo Noginski survived the July 1 attack outside a Jewish day school in Brighton.
Khaled Awad, 24, who was arrested after the stabbing, had previously been charged, but on Thursday he was arraigned on new hate crime counts — one of committing a civil rights violation and a second that deals with armed assault and battery to intimidate, prosecutors said.
“We believe this violent attack was rooted in anti-Semitism. We are going to call that out and charge that specifically,” District Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement.
Prosecutors allege that Awad had been outside the Shaloh House Jewish school the day before the attack, and someone was concerned enough to take a photo of him.
On July 1, Awad allegedly pulled a gun on Noginski, demanded keys to a school van and motioned for the rabbi to get inside. When Awad put the gun away, the rabbi ran and was stabbed as he fled, the district attorney’s office said.
The DA’s office said that witnesses have reported that Awad has strong biases against Jews, Christians and American culture and that he has called Jewish people “evil.” Assistant District Attorney Margaret Hegarty said investigators spoke to people who knew Awad who described hateful statements he has made.
Awad’s attorney, Stephen Weymouth, said that Awad “adamantly denies having those kinds of conversations.”
“It looked like some sort of crime of opportunity. There was a van, there was a set of keys, [he] wanted him to get into the van,” Weymouth said, according to video from NBC Boston. “I do not see anything that indicates to me that this was based on hate.”
Awad is being held without bail. He had previously been charged with seven counts before the hate crime charges were filed.
Weymouth requested a competency evaluation, and Awad was ordered to undergo further psychiatric evaluation at a state hospital. A court clinician told the judge that Awad has been diagnosed as bipolar and has not been taking his medications while in Massachusetts.
Noginski is recovering at home and spoke to reporters Sunday, saying that he believes it was a miracle from God that he survived. “It could have been so much worse,” he said, NBC Boston reported at the time.