Police say a woman and her toddler were attacked by a man in broad daylight at the main branch of the Mobile Public Library last week, leaving them shaken but not seriously injured.
According to police, officers received a report of an assault from the Ben May Main Library just a few minutes before noon on Thursday, Oct. 25. The facility is located in downtown Mobile, but police say the alleged assault took place outside the main entrance on South Washington Ave.
“The victim stated she was struck with a [crowd control pole] by an unknown male,” a report of the incident reads. “The subject knocked her and her child down. The subject then fled the scene but was apprehended a short time later. The victim and her child received minor injuries.”
Police were able to locate and arrest 28-year-old Mujahid Assad, who was booked into Mobile Metro Jail on three assault charges and one count of criminal mischief. Records indicate Assad has prior charges for loitering and harassment, one of which occurred while he was homeless.
Asked about the incident, Mobile’s Executive Director of Public Safety James Barber said the MPD has stepped up enforcement dealing with “aggressive panhandling” and other incidents downtown. While he noted that homelessness is not a crime, panhandling is.
In a mugshot from last week, Assad appears to have a black eye, though it’s currently unclear if the injury was related to the assault or his arrest afterward. According to jail records, Assad was still being kept in police custody as of 1 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 30.
Following reports of the assault, the Mobile Police Department declined an opportunity to speak about its overall approach to security downtown, but a spokesperson did say “we believe the man arrested may be suffering from a mental illness and we have asked that he be evaluated.”
Library Director Scott Kinney said he was “saddened” by the incident but noted security officers acted swiftly and were able to “provide information that assisted” the DMP in apprehending Assad. A spokesperson with MPD later confirmed officers were on the scene within three minutes.
Library spokeswoman Amber Guy said there is an average of 1.2 million visitors at the system’s various branches every year, adding that Thursday’s attack was “very much an isolated incident.”
“The director has been here for six years and there have only been a handful of incidents that have become physical,” Guy added. “We’re so glad no one was injured, and we appreciate our security staff and Mobile Police Department apprehending the suspect as quickly as they did.”
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