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FBI Investigating Death Of Kansas City Teenager As Possible Hate Crime

Frank Morris

The FBI is investigating the death of a 15-year-old Muslim boy who was run down with a SUV outside the Somali center in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday night.

He later died of his injuries.

The center doubles as a mosque where the teen’s father is a teacher.

The FBI is looking into the death as a possible hate crime, but the suspect was well known to the those Kansas City’s Somali community. Ahmed H. Aden, 34, of Kansas City was charged with the crime Friday. Prosecutors are requesting a $250,000 bail.

The Somali community in Kansas City is tight, and Mohamed Abdalla says the killing of one of their most prominent teenagers, Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein really stings. Every Friday afternoon, Muslim men pray at the Somali Center on Admiral Boulevard, this week the concrete building was packed.

"It’s heart breaking, it’s heart breaking," Abdalla says. "We can’t even digest yet … this is the safest place that you want to come it ... disbelief. I saw him on Wednesday ... was the last time I saw him, and it was like, the last two words we said to each other were I miss you, and I hope to see you again."

One of Sheikh-Hussein’s nephews, teenager Mohamed Ali, says his uncle was a straight-A student. His father teaches Arabic and the Koran at the Somali Center.

Thursday evening "Adam," as his friends called him, had just led prayers at the mosque. He was on his way to a gym to play some basketball with Ali and other friends when he was run down in the street getting into a car.

Ali says it didn’t take long for friends to find him at the basketball court.

"My heart stopped," he says. "The first thing we did, reach for our stuff and get in the car and go to the hospital to see him. It was like the terriblest thing that you ever heard. It was just emotional in the car, just crying."

"He was the best Somali kid I knew," says Hassana Mohamed, who is not not a relative, but one of more than 100 men at prayers Friday.

Mohamed says the man accused of killing Sheikh-Hussein was becoming notorious in the Somali community.

"He was a sick man, a sick man," he says.

Mohamed describes the alleged perpetrator as a Somali, who had renounced his Muslim faith, threatened members of the community (recently at gun point) and had scrawled messages on his SUV and the mosque, comparing the Koran to Ebola.

"He was a crazy guy. You go against your own community, your own faith … you know he’s not getting anything financial, you know so why would anybody do that? So, he was a nut, period," says Mohamed.

Mohamed says the man’s erratic, angry behavior recently got him fired from his job as a truck driver.

"He was a sick man, there are many sick people, all over the world, and if they don’t get help, something like that will happen."

The attack happened out here just in front of the Somali center, just east of the downtown loop.

Walking down Admiral Boulevard, Khabera Dirir says she still can’t believe her promising young nephew is gone.

"He had goals, he wanted to be a doctor. He had all kind of hopes. He’d say like, 'If I go back to Somalia, or any third world country, I want to help them.' He was a leader. He wanted to serve people," she says.

Like Sheikh-Hussein, Khabera’s parents moved here from Somalia looking for a more secure life for their children.

"When you come from a third-world country, where there is no law, you come here you want your kids to have a better life. You know, my parents came here for a better life, like my sister did for her kids. My nephew came here when he was almost two, so he could have a better life," she says.

Sheikh-Hussein is scheduled to be buried Saturday.

I’ve been at KCUR almost 30 years, working partly for NPR and splitting my time between local and national reporting. I work to bring extra attention to people in the Midwest, my home state of Kansas and of course Kansas City. What I love about this job is having a license to talk to interesting people and then crafting radio stories around their voices. It’s a big responsibility to uphold the truth of those stories while condensing them for lots of other people listening to the radio, and I take it seriously. Email me at frank@kcur.org or find me on Twitter @FrankNewsman.
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