One charged after pair tried to take St. Paul girl

The man suspected of driving the car in the attempted kidnapping of the 14-year-old appeared in court as another suspect was being sought.

Two days after the attempted drive-by abduction of a 14-year-old St. Paul girl, one man was charged Thursday with attempted kidnapping and false imprisonment, but his alleged accomplice remained on the loose, a police official said.

"I want justice," said the girl's mother, Jovita Martinez. Police have yet to identify witnesses who could lead them to the second man, who the girl has said stepped out of a car in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood and tried pulling her inside the vehicle before she broke free.

The car's driver, Ali S. Abdilahi, 31, of St. Paul, made his first court appearance Thursday but "isn't talking," police Cmdr. Shari Gray said.

The girl has told investigators that she didn't know her would-be abductors, making the case extremely rare, according to Gray. "I can't remember the last time that we had a straight-up 'stranger' case like this," she said.

Police have uncovered no evidence, Gray added, of any connections between the girl and Abdilahi.

Martinez, the victim's mother, said she was upset no one came forward to help her daughter following an attack that had occurred just before noon on a day when public schools were not in session.

Looking down E. 3rd Street in the direction of a convenience store that her daughter visited earlier Tuesday morning, Martinez expressed frustration with what she perceived as unsafe streets: "You can't go to the store?" she said.

'Come here'

According to the criminal complaint filed against him Thursday, Abdilahi is alleged to have pulled alongside the girl as she was walking in the East Side neighborhood. Police have said she was walking near E. 7th and Mendota streets with headphones on at the time.

The passenger in his car then rolled down the window, according to the complaint, and said to the 14-year-old, "Little girl, come here."

The complaint makes no mention of any response.

Awhile later, police say, the man got out of the car and tried to pull her inside. The girl held onto an outside mirror, however, and was dragged along the pavement until the passenger "told the other man to go," the complaint said.

Gray said Thursday that it is believed that while the girl was being dragged by Abdilahi's car, another car had passed by and slowed down. No driver has come forward, however, to tell police what he or she may have seen, Gray said. Neither has a person whom the girl has said that she approached on the street seeking help.

Instead, the girl made her way home, where an officer later observed streaks of blood on her legs, torn clothing and scraped knees. Her clothes were wet from the snowy pavement, the complaint added.

The victim, "obviously upset," according to the complaint, told police then that she had thought that the two men were going to rape her.

Asked Thursday how the girl was positioned outside the car, police spokesman Tom Walsh said police believe the passenger-side door was open and that she was on the outside of the door holding onto the mirror while the passenger tried pulling her around and in.

Was that physically possible? he was asked.

"Yes, it makes sense, and it explains why her legs are damaged as they are," he said. "Because they're under the door as they're [driving] forward."

Abdilahi was arrested after the girl had provided a partial license plate number and then identified him from a six-person photo lineup.

Shoe details match

When arrested, he reportedly was wearing a pair of tennis shoes with a blue stripe or swoosh. Earlier, the girl had told police that the driver wore glasses and had on a newer pair of tennis shoes with a blue stripe, the complaint said.

Asked Thursday about the girl's ability to see the driver's feet, Gray said that the victim told police that when the passenger-side door was open, she was at an angle that enabled her to see the shoes.

Martinez, the girl's mother, said Thursday that her daughter was resting and that she should be back at Humboldt Junior High School when classes resume next week.

On Thursday night, Abdilahi remained in custody at the Ramsey County jail, authorities said. He is being held in lieu of $75,000 bail. His criminal history consists of traffic violations, police have said.

His alleged accomplice is described as a man of Middle Eastern or African descent, in his mid-20s to mid-30s, with short hair, medium height and medium-to-slight build. Anyone with information is asked to call St. Paul police at 651-291-1111.

Anthony Lonetree • 651-298-1545

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