Suspect arrested in investigation of alleged hate crime attack outside Los Angeles restaurant

Jewish diners were attacked at a restaurant earlier this week.

May 22, 2021, 10:09 PM

Police have arrested a primary suspect in an attack on Jewish diners at a Los Angeles restaurant earlier this week that's being investigated as a possible antisemitic hate crime.

The man, identified as 30-year-old Xavier Pabon, was arrested Friday night at a home outside the city and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

Detectives are seeking additional hate crime charges, and the department requested that the suspect's bail be enhanced "due to the crime being motivated by hatred," the LAPD said in a statement.

Pabon, from Banning, California, is being held on $275,000 bail, according to police.

The incident occurred Tuesday night outside a sushi restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard. Video captured by bystanders shows a chaotic brawl on a sidewalk. Witnesses told Los Angeles ABC station KABC that a pro-Palestinean group of men got out of a car and yelled antisemitic remarks at the diners.

KABC spoke to one man who said he was among those attacked. The man, who only wanted to be identified as M, told the station he was out eating with four Jewish friends when a group stopped their car and were "cussing at Jews."

A video shows an assault outside a restaurant in Los Angeles on May 18, 2021.
Obtained by ABC News

M told KABC that three or four men started hitting him and followed him to his car. He said he was hospitalized after suffering from pepper spray burns and head trauma.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti condemned the incident, calling it an "organized, anti-Semitic attack."

"Jewish Angelenos, like all residents, should always feel safe in our city," he said on Twitter Wednesday.

Pabon is "one of the primary suspects in the assault and beating" of the diners, police said.

"The LAPD received many tips from the public on this case which assisted with the ultimate identification of the suspect," the LAPD said in a statement. "He was ultimately tracked down and taken into custody without incident."

Inland Empire teams from the United States Marshal Service taskforce assisted the LAPD with the arrest.

LAPD said it's still working to identify, locate and arrest other suspects in the fight.

The Anti-Defamation League had offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the perpetrators of the LA restaurant attack. ABC News has reached out to see if the reward had been offered.

PHOTO: A demonstrator waves the flag of Palestine from the top of a building in support of Palestine during a rally in  the Los Angeles, May 15, 2021.
A demonstrator waves the flag of Palestine from the top of a building in support of Palestine during a rally in the Los Angeles, May 15, 2021.
Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

There has been a rise in antisemitic incidents in the U.S. since the most recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group ruling the Gaza Strip, according to the ADL. The anti-hate organization said Thursday it had received 193 reports in the week after the conflict broke out, up from 131 the previous week.

"To those who choose to indulge in age-old antisemitic tropes, exaggerated claims and inflammatory rhetoric, it has consequences: attacks in real life on real people targeted for no other reason than they are Jewish," ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement on its findings. "This is antisemitism, plain and simple. And it's indisputably inexcusable in any context."

After 11 straight days of fighting that left more than 240 people dead, Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire Thursday.

The escalating violence between Israel and Hamas sparked protests in the U.S. that have been largely peaceful. Though on Thursday, a 29-year-old Jewish man was beaten by a group of people in New York City's Times Square amid dueling demonstrations over the conflict. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime, according to the New York City Police Department.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations decried acts of violence following the attack at the LA restaurant.

"As a civil rights and advocacy organization, we support everyone's right to free speech, the right to assemble and rally in support of their respective political views. However, despite heightened tensions in Palestine and Israel, it is never acceptable for that conflict to spill over into our streets and cities," CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said in a statement. "Violence and intimidation should be condemned, investigated, and if warranted, prosecuted."

ABC News' Matthew Fuhrman and Abigail Shalawylo contributed to this report.

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