A Minneapolis businessman was shot in south Minneapolis early Wednesday and died about 12 hours later at Hennepin County Medical Center — leaving many in the Somali community shaken and angered.
Slain was Fuad Ali, 31, a Somali-American who owned two banquet halls and was beloved by the Somali arts community, particularly singers and other entertainers, said Abdirizak Bihi, director of the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center.
“The younger generation loved him,” Bihi said. “He gave them space to breathe. This is a big loss for the second generation [of Somali immigrants], which is the majority of our community right now.”
Police responded at 12:50 a.m. to a “shots fired” call in the 2600 block of Pleasant Avenue S., where officers found a man lying in the street with a gunshot wound.
Ali was being dropped off in the area of Pillsbury Avenue between 26th and 27th streets, near his residence, when he was shot, Bihi said. Family members told Bihi that they didn’t believe he had been robbed.
No arrests have been made. Cyndi Barrington, a police spokeswoman, said it’s too early to determine a motive.
Ali was a father of two boys younger than 4, and his wife is seven months pregnant, said Bihi and one of Ali’s relatives.
“He was such a good-hearted person,” Bihi said. “This has shaken us.”
He said Ali was kind, shy and soft-spoken — and well connected with Somali immigrants in the Twin Cities, particularly the artistic community.
“This guy had an elephant heart,” Bihi said. “He was a community leader. He was a man who has done more work with our community, in terms of giving space to the arts community, than anyone I know. We lost a great man.”
Bihi said the Somali community will be asked to raise money for a reward to help law enforcement arrest and prosecute the killer or killers. That’s something never done before by Somalis in this area, he said, noting that many are angered by Ali’s slaying.
Bihi said the slaying comes on the heels of four other Somali men slain in the past year, and young people have been rallying over how to stop the bloodshed.
Bihi said he first met Ali a year ago at his banquet facility, called Lakeview Hall, at 417 E. Lake St. It’s a place for gatherings, and at night, there’s often cultural music and dancing.
Ali’s newest acquisition, near the Karmel Square, was not far from the shooting scene, said a cousin, Hinda Ali of Minneapolis.
“We have no idea what happened,” Hinda Ali said.
She said Ali had immigrated about a decade ago from Somalia. He went to the University of Minnesota, and his business and Safari restaurant were supportive of the community. Ali often let artists and entertainers use his banquet hall for free, or for a discounted cost, and he contributed to charities.
“He was a businessman and created jobs in this city,” Hinda Ali said. “He was living the American dream.
“For somebody who leaves their own country and is starting up somewhere new, that is an immigrant’s dream. He did all of that, and his life got taken away from him, just like that.”
His friends and the entertainment community are inviting people to gather at the Safari restaurant, 3010 S 4th Av., Saturday evening to pay tribute and share memories — and encourage the community to talk with law enforcement.
Police ask that anyone with information about the slaying call 612-692-8477 or text tips to 847 411, enter MPD and any information.