Minneapolis, (Somalilandpress) — A pair of 17-year-old Somalis from Minneapolis were charged this afternoon with first-degree murder in the killings of three people last week at a south Minneapolis market in what Hennepin County’s top prosecutor called “a robbery gone bad.”
Ahmed Shire Ali and Mahdi Hassan Ali were accused in a criminal complaint of killing two store employees and a customer who walked in just as the robbery got underway. He was immediately shot.
“It’s a tragic, senseless shooting,” said County Attorney Mike Freeman, in announcing three counts of first-degree murder against each defendant. “It’s a robbery gone bad.”
The two suspects are being held in lieu of $3 million bail each.
The shootings took place about 7:45 p.m. Jan. 6 at the Seward Market and Halal Meats at E. Franklin and 25th Avenues S.
[ad#Google Adsense (200×200)]
Killed were store employee Abdifatah Warfa, 28; his cousin, Mohamed Warfa, 30, who had brought Abdifatah some tea, and Anwar Mohammed, 31, a store customer. The Warfas were Somali; Mohammed was Oromo.
The criminal complaint released today provided details of what Dolan has called a “cold-blooded” killing.
According to the complaint, based largely on police interviews and surveillance video from the store:
Ahmed Ali and Mahdi Ali entered the store after 7:30 p.m. Both were wearing masks.
Ahmed Ali immediately went to the rear of the store and, speaking in Somali, told two customers not to move. As he spoke, Mahdi Ali stood at the front counter and hollered “This is a robbery.”
Mahdi Ali ordered Abdifatah Warfa and Mohamed Warfa to step out from behind the counter and lie on the floor. He then demanded money from them.
As the men hit the floor, a store customer, Anwar Mohammed, walked in.
Mahdi Hassan Ali turned and shot Mohammed. As Mohammed fell, Mahdi Hassan Ali ran from the store. As he ran, he turned and shot Mohamed Warfa, who was following close behind and fell near the store’s entryway.
At that point, Ahmed Shire Ali fled, running past the bodies of Mohammed and Warfa. As he ran out, Mahdi Hassan Ali ran back into the store and chased down and shot Abdifatah Warfa as he tried to make a cell phone call. As Abdifatah Warfa lay dying, Mahdi Ali ran from the store again, pumping a second shot into Mohammed as he ran by.
Help from community
Appearing with Freeman at a news conference this afternoon, Dolan said police initially were reluctant to disclose robbery as the suspected motive because while the store security video made it appear to be a robbery, the video did not include sound. He said investigators couldn’t be sure it was a robbery until they conducted interviews.
The morning after the shootings, Dolan said that the suspects were believed to be Somali, and he appealed to members of the city’s East African community for information that would help investigators capture the suspects and solve the crime.
Less than 48 hours later and working off a tip that came out of the Somali community, police arrested a 17-year-old whom they described as a primary suspect in the slayings. Later that day, the family of another 17-year-old took him to a neighborhood precinct station and turned him in.
Investigators say they’re not looking for more suspects.
“We’re not looking for anyone else at this point,” said Minneapolis police Capt. Amelia Huffman, commander of the criminal investigation division. “These are the two guys in the store, and these are the two guys responsible.”
The teenager who allegedly shot all three people, Mahdi Ali, was known to police because of some “low level” criminal behavior in the past, according to Huffman. The other teenager, Ahmed Shire Ali, did not have a criminal history, she said.
In interviews with many in the Somali community, he was “generally described as being a pretty good kid prior to this,” she said.
Source: StarTribune, 14 January 2010