Hassan Mohamed Abdillahi wanted revenge for the April shooting death of his cousin, but because he believed the shooter had fled the country, he decided to kill that man's friend instead, according to murder charges filed Monday.

Abdillahi, 22, of Richfield has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Abdishakur Adan Hassan on Sept. 29. Abdillahi believed that Hassan, a 21-year-old Minneapolis resident, was a friend of the man who killed his cousin, Abdi Abdullahi, in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood on April 11, the charges say.

Hassan was shot at the Village Market Mall, a popular south Minneapolis gathering place for Somali immigrants. His stepsister had dropped him off at the mall so he could get a haircut for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr the next day. At about 9 p.m., he was standing outside the back of the mall with two male friends when Abdillahi, wearing a hood, approached the group, the charges said.

Abdillahi walked past Hassan and his friends, then turned back and shot Hassan in the chest, according to the charges. Hassan died at the scene. Surveillance cameras from the mall captured the shooting.

"I don't know anybody who would do such a thing," said a relative of Hassan's who said she did not want to be named for fear of retaliation. "That bullet wasn't meant for him. It was from anger."

Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, said Monday that he talked with Hassan's family last week after Abdillahi was arrested.

"They were very happy," Jamal said. "Their reaction is hoping that someone will be brought to the courts and held responsible for the killing of their son."

The investigation

A friend of Abdillahi's told investigators that on Sept. 11, Abdillahi said he was going to kill Hassan to retaliate for the fatal shooting of his cousin, the charges said. Abdillahi told the friend that he believed one of Hassan's friends was responsible for that shooting, but that the man had fled to Kenya.

Abdillahi stated he "would murder Abdishakur Hassan because he could not murder the person actually responsible for the shooting of his cousin," the charges said.

Minneapolis police spokesman Sgt. Jesse Garcia said the Abdullahi case remains open. In April, a 23-year-old Minneapolis man was held for questioning, but Garcia said no one has been charged and he could not confirm that anyone involved in the slaying might have fled the country.

The friend who spoke with Abdillahi about his desire to revenge his cousin's slaying also reviewed the surveillance tapes that recorded Hassan's murder, police said. That friend told police that because of the "physical build and the manner in which the defendant walked," there was no doubt that the defendant was Abdillahi, according to the charges.

The people who were standing with Hassan outside of the mall when he was shot told police that the shooter walked within 3 feet of them. One of them identified Abdillahi as the shooter during a photo lineup, the charges said. Another from that group identified Abdillahi as the person who walked by them wearing a hood.

Suspect's family 'devastated'

But Jamal said the family of Abdillahi believes he is innocent.

"They were devastated when the cousin [Abdullahi] was killed, and now this," Jamal said. "They are confused and shocked. All these allegations of witnesses will get sorted out through the process of the courts."

Over the past few months, the community has been deeply shaken by increased violence and the deaths of six Somali men so far this year, Jamal said.

A week before Hassan's death, Ahmednur Ali, a 20-year-old Augsburg College student, was shot to death as he left his volunteer job at the Brian Coyle Community Center in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. A 16-year-old has been charged in juvenile court in Ali's death.

"Now that all this has happened, the Somali parents are very strict with the kids," Hassan's cousin said. "Every mother is, like, 'When is my son or daughter going to be next?'"

Lora Pabst • 612-673-4628