Hennepin County increased its security patrols of the Franklin Community Library in south Minneapolis on Thursday after a man was shot the day before by someone who accosted him in a library bathroom.
The victim, a 42-year-old homeless man, was shot in the back by a gunman shortly before 1 p.m. at the branch library at 1314 E. Franklin Av.
The victim survived, but police say he is paralyzed from the waist down and hospitalized at Hennepin County Medical Center after what they are calling an "unprovoked attack."
Now police are searching for the suspected gunman after talking with a witness who was possibly with him before the shooting. The witness has given them information about the suspect and that he goes by the street name "Xavier."
Authorities have yet to release the victim's identity. He is homeless and moved to the United States from Sudan about two years ago, Minneapolis police Lt. Mike Fossum said Thursday.
The victim apparently was washing up and brushing his teeth in the bathroom when the gunman approached and said something he couldn't understand, Fossum said. The man then shot him.
The victim had a backpack with him, but the gunman did not take it, leaving in doubt whether this was a robbery attempt, Fossum said.
When library employees came to the man's aid, they said he asked for a fellow Muslim to recite his last rites.
Ahmed Ahmed, a library administrative assistant who's Muslim, went into the bathroom where he said he saw the victim on the floor.
"He was telling me he was sure he was dying," Ahmed said. "It was very emotional. ... You only recite [rites] for a person if you are sure they will die."
Fossum said the suspect recently moved to the area from out of state.
The suspect, his victim and the witness all are regular patrons at the Franklin library as well as the main library downtown, the lieutenant said. Investigators are reviewing video surveillance from both libraries for information that might lead to an arrest.
Thursday afternoon, Hennepin County security staffers patrolled the library. While all county libraries have security, they have increased their hours at Franklin Library following the shooting, said Kirk Simmons, the county's security manager.
Ahmed said he wants the public to know that libraries are a "safe refuge for everyone."
"I just want him to live and help police with the investigation," the library administrative assistant said. "That would help us to know that this isn't something that could happen to anyone."