Three men shot to death in Minneapolis

The Somali community in Minneapolis woke up to a tragic incident this morning. In a shooting that occurred yesterday evening at a local Steward and Halal Meats Market frequented by Oromo and Somali immigrants, the owners – two cousins and a customer, were gunned down in a foiled robbery attempt according to the report. The police did not yet release the name of the three victims. And there are no suspects in the case at this point.Our condolences go out to the family of the victims and we hope that justice will be served in the case.

Star Tribune staff writers

Police were searching Thursday morning  for whoever shot three men to death Wednesday night in an apparent failed robbery at a south Minneapolis market, shocking residents of what a police spokesman called “a pretty good neighborhood” and bringing the city’s 2010 homicide count to four just one week into the year.

Police did not identify the victims of the shootings at Seward Market and Halal Meats, on E. Franklin and 25th Avenues, but Abdirizak Bihi, director of the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center in Minneapolis, said they were Somali immigrants, cousins who had pooled their money to buy the market.

“They come from a well-known family in the Somali community, a hard-working family,” Bihi said. “This is very shocking.”

One of the victims, he said, has seven children.

Late Wednesday, no suspects had been identified or arrested, said Sgt. William Palmer, a Minneapolis police spokesman. An intensive search for the shooter was underway and several witnesses were being interviewed, he said.

The shooting took place at 7:45 p.m. at the market, frequented by residents of the Seward neighborhood’s Somali immigrant community. The three were pronounced dead at the store, Palmer said. For a time afterward, one body could be seen lying in the doorway.

Police Chief Tim Dolan, talking with the crowd gathered near 26th Avenue S., said customers were inside the store at the time of the shooting and got out safely. He said he believed the victims were Somalis.

Investigators hope to glean clues from security cameras in the store, Dolan said.

Palmer called the area “a pretty good neighborhood,” adding, “I wouldn’t characterize it as one with a lot of challenges.”

For much of Wednesday night, police blocked off E. Franklin Avenue, routing cars onto side streets. Neighbors reported that police officers with dogs were searching alleys.

Word spread quickly through the Somali community, and scores of anxious people gathered near the market seeking information.

Among them was Nor Gula, who was almost home when he got a call about the shootings. He turned around and headed toward the market.

“I heard that two of our friends were killed, but I’m not sure,” he said.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak came to the scene to talk with police and citizens. He urged those gathered to come forward with any information they might have or hear. “We’re trying to do our very best, and we’ll know more in the morning,” he told them.

Six days, four homicides

Minneapolis’ last triple homicide, which sprang from a domestic dispute, was in 2004.

Wednesday’s deaths were Minneapolis’ second, third and fourth homicides of the year. “It’s certainly not the way we wanted to start the year,” Palmer said. “We’re hopeful our investigators will bring this to a quick conclusion.”

Last year, Minneapolis had 19 homicides, 78 fewer than the record of 97 set in 1995.

The first homicide of 2010 occurred Saturday night when Dontae Johnson, 31, of Champlin, was shot to death in the Webber-Camden neighborhood. Police found him lying in the street in the 3800 block of N. 6th Street after receiving a report of several shots fired. No one has been arrested in that case.

‘Very, very tragic’

“This is very, very tragic, and beyond my comprehension that there’s this level of violence in the community,” said Omar Jamal, a community activist who has overseen the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in St. Paul.

“We don’t know what to make out of it,” he said. “Somehow, if it involved gangs, then people could somewhat understand this. But it now looks like … law-abiding Somali citizens are falling victim to this violence. … Makes me feel like no one is safe out there. … This is completely out of character for the community.”

As word of the shooting spread, Bihi said a woman called him to express sorrow.

“She said it’s unfortunate that we fled from violence and here we are trying to make our dreams come true. And then the violence follows us here.” • 612-673-7692 • 612-673-4788

Source : StarTribune



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