A suspect is jailed awaiting murder charges after a man was shot to death during a robbery while he was helping out his friend at a Cedar-Riverside furniture store in a situation that unfolded rapidly Tuesday evening, according to a witness.
The gunman walked into the store about 7 p.m., pulled out a gun and pointed it at Hassan Shire, the owner. "Give me money, give me money," the gunman said to Shire, who said he responded, "No problem."
Shire's friend, Abdifatah H. Mohamed, 40, who was sitting in a chair, stood up, Shire said, at which point the gunman fired at Mohamed. Shire, 53, said he believed his friend was shot three or four times.
Police early Wednesday arrested a 30-year-old violent felon on suspicion of fatally shooting Mohamed. The man was apprehended in St. Paul and jailed shortly after 4:30 a.m. in connection with the shooting in the 400 block of S. Cedar Avenue, according to police spokesman John Elder. Murder and other possible charges against the suspect are pending. The Star Tribune generally does not identify suspects before they are charged.
Mohamed, also known by the name Liban Osman Baqare, leaves behind a wife and four children who were visiting Uganda. His wife was flying back to the Twin Cities on Wednesday. A GoFundMe page has been launched to support his family.
About 20 customers were inside West Bank Furniture, which also sells cellphones and does money transfers, Shire said.
Said Ahmedarab, 28, said in an interview that he was sitting in a car outside the store with a friend when the shooting occurred. He had arrived to pick up a cellphone he was having repaired. He said his car windows were rolled up and he did not hear the gun shots, but customers came out of a restaurant next door and said they had heard shots.
"We see this guy come running out of the store," said Ahmedarab. He said he saw the man tuck something into his pocket. The man ran to a car parked nearby and hopped into the vehicle, which he described as a Navy blue Impala driven by someone else. The vehicle then took off. He said he was interviewed by a homicide detective.
Officers found Mohamed inside the business with multiple gunshot wounds, Elder said. He was taken by paramedics to HCMC and soon pronounced dead. Mohamed is the city's 24th homicide victim so far this year.
"It is a very sad day," said Shire, who said he had known Mohamed for about 20 years. They sometimes had dinner together. "He comes to see me and help me," he said. He was not a regular employee.
The store has three internal surveillance cameras and two outside cameras, which helped police identify the gunman. Asked if police had the driver of the getaway car in custody, a city spokesman would only say it was an active investigation.
The building where the shooting took place houses numerous shops and is known in the community as "the mall."
Mohamed was a long-haul truck driver with his own semitrailer truck, friends said. He had just come back from a trip and stopped in at the store about 40 minutes before the shooting occurred.
The suspect's criminal history includes a conviction in adult court in 2010 for beating and kicking a pregnant woman outside a St. Paul grocery store during an attempted carjacking when he was 16, as well as two felony drug convictions.
Sharif Farah, a longtime friend, said that since Ramadan began this month, he and Mohamed had been breaking fast and observing nighttime prayers together. Farah and others who knew Mohamed described him as a humble man who volunteered in the community.
"He was a hard worker, and he loved his wife and kids," an emotional Farah said. "There is no one I can compare him with. I love him more than myself. I lost a good friend."
The shooting has shaken the Cedar-Riverside community.
"It's very tragic," said Mohamed Farah, 32, who also owns a trucking business. "We have COVID, there's the Chauvin trial and George Floyd and now this homicide. It's a senseless murder."
Liban Ali said he considered Abdifatah Mohamed his uncle. "In the middle of the most peaceful month [Ramadan], people are killing each other," he said.
Abdirahman Mukhtar operates Daryeel Youth, a program in the neighborhood that helps youth and young adults with homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness. He called the murder "very shocking."
"People are earning a living and don't expect someone to come in with guns and start shooting. That's why we ended up in Minnesota. We fled the war in Somalia so we don't expect, in the city of Minneapolis where we are doing business and working, that someone will shoot you in daylight."
Wednesday afternoon, Abdifatah Mohamed's new Honda Pilot SUV was still parked behind the furniture store. There was a coffee cup and an open bottle of water in the cup holders.
Randy Furst • 612-673-4224
Faiza Mahamud • 612-673-4203
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482