Muslim woman claims she was threatened with gun in Columbia

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department is investigating after a Muslim woman said she was harassed with a handgun while driving on Providence Road, Monday. 

Heba Jassim came to the stoplight at Providence and Locust after being harassed by the driver for about a mile. 

She was turning left on to Locust when the driver pulled up quickly behind her and flipped his middle finger. 

Jassim said she then saw the driver pull out a handgun. She said she asked him "are you threatening me?" and he responded "yes". She said she then told him she was calling police.

When she did that, she says the driver sped away, making an illegal U-turn and leaving the scene. 

Jassim said she was in the car with her two daughters driving to their mosque when the incident happened. 

Jassim was wearing a hijab- a religious head covering- at the time of the incident. 

Faizan Syed, Executive Director of The Council on American-Islam Relations in Missouri, said they are calling on law enforcement and the FBI to investigate this incident as a hate crime. 

Iman Eldeib, a worshipper at the Islamic Center of Central Missouri, said she was at the mosque when Jassim arrived after the incident. She called 911 immediately. 

"We have faith that they will be able to determine whether this constitutes a hate crime, regardless it is a crime to threaten someone with gun. And it was a mother and children minding their own business," she said. 

Bridget Patton, FBI Public Affairs Specialist, said "We are aware of the incident, we have been in contact with law partners but the local law enforcement is the one investigating. 

Columbia Police Department Interim Chief Geoff Jones said his department is investigating the incident but not necessarily as a hate crime.

"At this point, we will consider all motives," Jones said. 

He said he believes this incident in isolated and in general Columbia is a safe place for people of faith. He said his department is committed to protecting everyone including the Muslim community.

"We have to watch out for each other," he said. "And as the police, we intend to do that."

Columbia Police said the suspect is a white man with tattoos on his left arm. He was driving a gold four-door car at the time of the incident. CPD is asking anyone with information to call them or CrimeStoppers at 573-875-8477.

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