Prosecutors have brought hate crime charges against the 24-year-old man accused of stabbing a rabbi outside of a Jewish Day School in Boston's Brighton neighborhood multiple times last week.
Khaled Awad, of Brighton, was arraigned on two new hate crime charges in a Brighton courtroom Thursday. He had previously been arraigned last Friday on seven other charges in connection to the stabbing.
Some in the Jewish community believe the hate crime charges should have been brought from the very beginning. But prosecutors said they needed to gather evidence first, before they could make those charges stick.
"It was learned through this investigation that the suspect had strong religious views and opinions against Jews, Christians and the American culture," assistant district attorney Margaret Hegarty said in court.
Prosecutors said they learned that hate drove Awad to stab the Rabbi Shlomo Noginski nine times. Investigators spoke to people who knew Awad when he lived in Florida, who described him making "statements like, 'All Jews are stingy and evil.' 'They are evil and control the world,'" Hegarty said.
Awad had previously pleaded not guilty to several charges, including assault and battery with a dangerous weapon assault and battery on a police officer during his arraignment in Brighton District Court Friday.
Awad's attorney requested a mental health evaluation Thursday, which the judge granted..
Awad was held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing, which was originally scheduled Thursday, but postponed until July 29.
On Thursday, Awad's attorney called the new charges "slim."
"He adamantly denies having those kinds of conversations," Stephen Weymouth said, adding that the incident was instead an attempt to steal a van.
"There was a van. There was a set of keys. He wanted him to get into the van. I do not see anything to indicate to me that this was based on hate," Weymouth said.
In court last week, Suffolk County prosecutors said Noginski was held up with a gun as Awad asked for the keys to his van, which belongs to the Shaloh House, a Chabad center that runs a school, camp and more. When Awad allegedly ordered Noginski into the van, the rabbi tried to run, but Awad chased after him into the park.
There, he stabbed Noginski eight or nine times, but Noginski kept running, prosecutors said. Awad "disengaged" when he saw that witnesses were noticing the attack -- it was caught on video, and Noginski took a photo of his attacker as well.
After he was arrested, Awad allegedly kicked an officer in the stomach while he was being put in a Boston police squad car. Prosecutors said Awad was arrested in Florida last year, but those charges were dropped and he was sent to a mental health facility.
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins disagreed with Awad's attorney's assessment of what happened, telling reporters Thursday, "he wasn't trying to steal a van, he was attacking a rabbi. Absolutely."
She had a message for the Jewish community: "We believe this was rooted in anti-Semitism. We are going to call that out and charge that specifically and we want them to know they are safe."
Noginski, a father of 12, is home from the hospital. Though he is in pain, he feels lucky to be alive, he said in a video obtained by NBC10 Boston.
"By the Grace of G-d, a great miracle has just happened to me. G-d saved me," Noginski said. "I am feeling relatively well, although still in pain. Yes, I am in pain, but it could have been so much worse."