Two victims, cousins from Somalia, owned the store. The third, from Oromo, was a customer. Police say they have “a suspected motive.”
With the “cold-blooded” killers of three East African immigrants still on the loose Thursday, Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan appealed to the public — and the city’s Somali community — for help in solving a crime that has shaken a city and the relatively quiet Seward neighborhood.
“The individuals that committed this act are very, very dangerous,” Dolan said. “They’re cold-blooded killers. There is a danger, and the danger obviously is higher in the Somali community. That is why we really need their help as far as trying to figure out who these individuals are.”
In making his statements, Dolan backed away from earlier police assertions that the shooting appeared to be a failed robbery attempt. A source said Thursday that the store’s nine security cameras clearly showed the three killings.
Dolan would not elaborate on any other motive in the incident, which occurred around 7:45 p.m. Wednesday after two men burst into Seward Market and Halal Meats, on E. Franklin and 25th Avenues. Authorities wouldn’t say how much time passed before the victims were shot; a number of customers were spared.
Two of the three victims were Somali, and the third — a store customer — was a native of Oromo in East Africa. Police said they believed the suspects are Somali.
On Thursday evening, more than 300 people gathered for a vigil, about two-thirds of them outside the store and the others in a church across the street. Many held signs that said, “Seward stands together; no more violence.”
Authorities had yet to release the names of the victims. However, several Somali sources who knew the store owners, as well as relatives of the owners, identified two victims as Abdifatah Warfa, 28, the store owner, and his cousin, Mahad Warfa, a Savage resident who was about the same age.
One relative said that Mahad, the father of four children, was not working Wednesday night but went to the store to bring a cup of tea to his cousin, Abdifatah, who was also known as Osman Elmi.
The third victim, identified by his mother as Anwar Mohammed, 31, had just finished his shift as a parking attendant in downtown Minneapolis Wednesday night and walked into the store to pick up groceries and a calling card to phone his new wife in Ethiopia.
Mohammed’s mother, Badria Rashad, said her son was preparing to bring his new wife to Minnesota this spring.
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