BOSTON (AP) — A man charged with stabbing a rabbi outside a Jewish school in Boston was ordered held without bail Thursday pending a dangerousness hearing as his attorney described him as suffering from severe mental illness.
Khaled Awad, 24, faces charges on nine indictments including armed assault with intent to murder, violating an individual’s constitutional rights and carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds.
Awad’s defense attorney, Janice Bassil, said Thursday that Awad has a history of severe mental illness and often experiences hallucinations.
“This is a very ill individual,” said Bassil, according to the Boston Globe.
Investigators said security camera footage showed Mr. Awad, 24, approaching Rabbi Shlomo Noginski outside the Shaloh House in the city’s Brighton neighborhood as a children’s camp was underway. Noginski’s style of dress made him identifiable as an Hasidic Jew, investigators said.
Awad drew a weapon that appeared to be a gun and made what the victim interpreted to be a demand for the keys to the school van, investigators said. When Noginski attempted to hand over the keys, Awad rejected them and instead motioned for him to enter the van in an apparent attempt to isolate him.
At the same time, Mr. Awad put away the weapon and pulled out a knife. Noginski used the moment to run to a nearby park where Awad chased him and attacked him with the knife, investigators said. Noginski was stabbed nine times and suffered serious wounds to the upper left chest near his heart and deep lacerations to his left arm.
Awad, who is originally from Egypt, was being held at Bridgewater State Hospital for an evaluation of his mental health following a July 8 hearing in Brighton District Court.
During Thursday’s court hearing, a clinician said Awad has bipolar disorder, has not been taking psychiatric medication while in Massachusetts and was deemed incompetent to stand trial in Florida, where he faced criminal charges last year.
His lawyer said Awad is now on a medication that appears to have stabilized him.
Noginski, an Israeli citizen with 12 children, was released from the hospital the day after the stabbing. The attack has been condemned by Boston’s Jewish community.
District Attorney Rachael Rollins said the alleged attack was a hate crime.
“It is imperative that we denounce hatred and bigotry in any form and respond clearly and firmly when we encounter it,” Rollins said in a press release Wednesday after a grand jury returned indictments against Awad.
Awas has been charged with: armed assault with intent to murder; aggravated assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon (knife); assault by means of a dangerous weapon (gun); assault and battery for the purpose of intimidation resulting in bodily injury; violating an individual’s constitutional rights; two counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon; and two counts of carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds.