Muslim Stanford student speaks out after alleged hit-and-run hate crime on campus

Stanford police said the victim's injuries are non-life-threatening.

November 6, 2023, 3:10 PM

An Arab Muslim student at Stanford University was hurt in a hit-and-run on campus, and the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office is opening a hate crime investigation, authorities said.

The student, Abdul Omira, told ABC News he was in a crosswalk when he was struck Friday afternoon.

Omira said the driver "made eye contact with him," accelerated and hit him, and then drove away and yelled "f--- you and your people" out the car window, according to Stanford's Department of Public Safety.

"I never imagined becoming the victim of a hate-driven attack," Omira said in a statement. "His hateful screams ... still echo in my ears."

His injuries are non-life-threatening, the Department of Public Safety said. Omira told ABC News by phone on Monday that he remains in the hospital and is suffering pain, bruises on his side and loss of sensation in his foot.

The California Highway Patrol said it responded to the hit-and-run. The CHP said, based on its "preliminary investigation and the determination that the incident was a hate crime, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office is opening a hate crime investigation to look further into the incident."

In his statement, Omira slammed Stanford, claiming the university's response to the incident was too slow. He said at first Stanford was "agonizingly silent" before the university released a statement six hours later that Omira said "downplayed the severity of the incident."

PHOTO: File image of a general view of the campus of Stanford University including Hoover Tower as seen from Stanford Stadium on Sept. 10, 2022 in Palo Alto, Calif.
File image of a general view of the campus of Stanford University including Hoover Tower as seen from Stanford Stadium on Sept. 10, 2022 in Palo Alto, Calif.
David Madison/Getty Images, FILE

A Stanford spokesperson told ABC News that "the California Highway Patrol initially responded and was the investigative authority in this matter. Campus authorities issued the notice as soon as there was enough available information from CHP to do so."

"We are profoundly disturbed to hear this report of potentially hate-based physical violence on our campus," Stanford University President Richard Saller and Provost Jenny Martinez said in a letter to the community. "Violence on our campus is unacceptable. Hate-based violence is morally reprehensible, and we condemn it in the strongest terms. We want to express our deep concern for the student who was injured, and for all affected by this incident."

Stanford police said security has been upped at locations on campus and the university is "continuing to work to provide a safe and secure campus environment in the context of heightened tensions related to the events in Israel and Gaza."

Omira told ABC News he recognized the suspect from a pro-Palestine sit-in on campus last month.

The victim reported that the driver was a white man in his mid-20s with short dirty blond hair, a short beard and round glasses, according to university police.

The suspect was driving a black Toyota 4Runner with an exposed tire mounted to the rear center and a Toyota logo in the center of the wheel, university police said. The 4Runner had a white California license plate with the letters M and J, university police said.

Stanford's Department of Public Safety said, "We encourage any witnesses to this incident to come forward and share with law enforcement any information they have."

The CHP asks anyone with information to call the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office at 408-808-4500 or the sheriff's office's anonymous tip line at 408-808-4431.

Omira said in his statement, "The physical wounds will heal with time, but the emotional scars -- the feeling of being targeted solely because of my physical appearance, heritage and beliefs -- are likely to linger."

"As I lay in my hospital bed, grappling with a reality I had never imagined, I reflect on the importance of spreading love kindness, and compassion in a world that seems to be steadily succumbing to hatred and prejudice. This ordeal has solidified my resolve to advocate for love, understanding and inclusivity," he continued. "I implore everyone reading this: let us collectively denounce hatred, bigotry and violence. Let us take the time to understand one another, to celebrate our diversity, and to stand united against the forces that seek to divide us."

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