Santa Monica hit-run suspect held on $10M bail amid terror questions

DEL AIRE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Bail was set at $10 million for a suspect accused of mowing down a man in a Santa Monica parking lot after officials expressed concerns the incident could have been an act of terrorism.

Absadi Tewelde Kidane, 21, is accused of speeding through the parking lot of the Santa Monica courthouse and running over a pedestrian at a parking meter.

He then allegedly sped out of the parking lot, struck another car and fled on foot before he was arrested. In addition to felony hit and run and homicide, he was also booked for driving under the influence.

The pedestrian who was killed, Donald Thomas of Hawthorne, 40, was described as a churchgoing father of three.

At a court hearing, prosecutors and the judge discussed the possibility that the incident was an act of terrorism.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz noted there have been acts of terrorism in other countries, including this week's London attack, in which a suspect used a vehicle to injure or kill people.

"Yesterday in London we had a tragic situation in which people were mowed down," Schwartz said. "We had things like this that happened in France and other countries."

He also noted that the suspect's car drove straight into the lot and did not give any indications that he accidentally lost control.

Investigators said they found notes in Kidane's car with Arabic writing and a passport indicating travels to the Middle East.

"They're not saying there is or there will be proven to be. They're saying there might be terrorist considerations here," Schwartz said.

But Kidane's defense attorney, Ambrosio Rodriguez, said his client is being racially profiled. He said Kidane is an American citizen and a Christian and had until recently been enrolled at El Camino College.

He also said Kidane might have mental health issues and was under the influence of drugs. He travels a lot because his mother works for American Airlines and visits to Ethiopia were because he has family there, Rodriguez said.

"I really do think the DA and the police have jumped the gun," Rodriguez said. "They've just made assumptions as to my client and tried to label him as a terrorist simply because he has a foreign-sounding last name."
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