Shootings targeting Somalis raise worries of gang war

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 31, 2013 - 7:05 AM

Three recent killings of young men are thought to be connected.


Abdirizak Bihi, a Somali community activist in Minneapolis

Photo: Peterson, Brian, Star Tribune

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A series of shootings that killed at least three young men this summer is stirring fears in the Somali community that a gang war has broken out, threatening to take more lives and tarnish its reputation.

The killings, two in Minneapolis and one in Burnsville, amount to the worst outbreak of violence among Somalis since a rash of gang-related killings in 2008 left people shaken and led to a groundbreaking community meeting with Minneapolis police before it ended.

“We thought this thing went away,” said Abdirizak Bihi, a Somali activist, speaking of the killings. Though police departments in Minneapolis and Burnsville would not comment on the shootings, several people within the Somali community said they believe the rash of killings this summer is gang-related and focused in revenge.

What started the shooting isn’t clear, said Bihi.

“This type of gang is not about money. It’s not about controlling turf. We don’t even know what it is,” he said.

It’s upsetting to older Somalis who feel they’ve made headway establishing the community in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, said Bihi.

There’s been a stronger sense of security among Somalis since the Minneapolis Police Department hired Somali officers, two of whom work the evening shift in the Cedar-Riverside area.

Recent killings

The trouble began June 1, when Mohamed O. Aden, of south Minneapolis, was shot several times while seated in a car parked outside a home in the 2400 block of NE. Washington Street.

A second man was shot to death July 4th in a south Minneapolis apartment building at 3033 Grand Av. S.

He was identified by the Hennepin County medical examiner as Muhyadin Mohamud Farah, 26, of Minneapolis. He was shot in the chest inside his apartment.

Then in the early morning of Aug. 13, someone shot Abdifatah Ahmed Mahumod, 23, and wounded another man in the Andrew’s Pointe townhouse complex in the 2100 block of E. 117th Street in Burnsville.

Neither the Minneapolis nor the Burnsville Police Departments commented Friday on the cases.

No criminal charges have been filed in any of the killings.

Past violence

The series of killings has alarmed some Somalis that they may be witnessing another rash of gang-related shootings like those in 2008, when several young men died. Though ties to all of the shootings were never fully made, it was widely assumed that they were connected.

It started with a double homicide in late 2007, which left two Somali men dead. Four months later, in an alley in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, someone opened the door of a parked car and shot the passenger to death.

Two months after that, gunshots claimed the life of a 31-year-old Somali man as he stood outside a Brooklyn Center hotel.

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