- Associated Press - Monday, December 12, 2016

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) - Police in a Southern California suburb are still seeking a man suspected of a hate crime for stabbing a worshipper near a mosque, authorities said, while his alleged accomplice has denied his role in the attack.

John Matteson, 29, was involved in the crime, but he was not the one who wielded the knife and stabbed a worshipper from the mosque in Simi Valley, police and prosecutors said.

Matteson on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to the charges, including disturbing the peace by fighting and violating civil rights. Hate-crime enhancements added to the charges make them felonies.

The two men approached a group of people who had just left the mosque late Saturday night and yelled slurs at them, police spokesman Sgt. Travis Coffey said.

That escalated to a physical fight when the suspect stabbed the man, whose injuries were not life-threatening, Coffey said.

It does not appear that the men had planned the attack or staked out the mosque, but they had merely run across the group of Muslims, police said.

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