Woman who drove into building to target Indianapolis Jewish community charged
Woman charged for driving into building to target Jewish community
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The woman who drove her vehicle into an Indianapolis building on Saturday in what was believed to be an attempted attack on the Jewish community was formally charged on Wednesday.
A probable cause affidavit obtained by News 8 says that around 12:33 a.m. Saturday, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer was called to 3532 N. Keystone Ave. to investigate “a hate crime involving a traffic accident.”
That address is for the Israelite School of Universal and Practical Knowledge.
When the officer arrived, they spoke with another officer on the scene who said 34-year-old Ruba Almaghtheh drove her vehicle into the side of the building while two adults and three children were inside.
The officer also said that Almaghtheh “mentioned she was watching television regarding the war taking place in the Middle East, and decided to plan an attack by crashing to the building on purpose because she observed a symbol located on the residence that she took high offense to and related it to being an Israeli school,” court documents say.
IMPD investigators added that when Almaghtheh discussed watching television, she “couldn’t breathe” anymore.
Police say that they observed a Hebrew symbol resembling the Star of David on the front of the building.
Investigators spoke with a witness, who said he was sitting in his car outside of the residence when he saw a dark-colored Chevy Impala, driven by Almaghtheh, pulling into the parking lot “like it was going to park.” The witness then watched the car go into reverse and back into the building, causing substantial damage.
The witness told officers he left his car and ran over to check on Almaghtheh, thinking that her backing up into the building was an accident.
Court documents say that when the witness spoke to Almaghtheh, “she immediately started ranting, yelling, ‘Free Palestine, Free Palestine.’”
The witness also said Almaghtheh “accused him of sending money to keep her people oppressed.”
Officers also spoke with a person inside the building at the time of the crash. Court documents say the male heard a “big boom” and went outside to see Almaghtheh’s car partially inside the building.
He also corroborated the witness’ statement, saying that Almaghtheh “ranted” at him and yelled, “Free Palestine.”
Detectives later learned from the owner of the building that $10,000 worth of damage was caused by the crash. The owner also said that the building was “used for residential, religious, and educational purposes,” court papers say.
The building was identified by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Indianapolis as belonging to and representing a sect of the Black Hebrew Israelites, which is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In a news release, the community relations council said it believes Almaghtheh thought the building represented Israel in some way, specifically citing the Hebrew Israelite symbol on the door.
IMPD says that Almaghtheh told investigators “she did it on purpose.”
Police also say that after Almaghtheh was taken into custody, she asked to use her phone to call her sister-in-law.
Court documents say that while on the phone, Almaghtheh told her sister-in-law that she wouldn’t be coming home that night and that she was frustrated and let her frustration out by driving into the building.
Almaghtheh was being held at the Marion County jail on a $200,000 bond. She was charged with intimidation, criminal recklessness, and institutional criminal mischief.
Indiana does not have a hate crime criminal charge, according to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.
A jury trial is set for Jan. 29.