A 34-year-old man will face a hate crimes probe after being charged with the hit-and-run death of a teenage boy outside the Somali Center of Kansas City, the Associated Press reports. Ahmed H. Aden was charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, leaving the scene of an accident and unlawful use of a weapon after running over a boy with his car on Thursday.
Authorities said 15-year-old Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein succumbed to his injuries after Aden’s SUV struck him outside the mosque where he had just finished leading evening prayers. His legs were severed and he died at a hospital.
Aden, who is a Somali Christian truck driver, had anti-Muslim graffiti on his rear window when he swerved his vehicle into Sheikh-Hussein. Members of the local Somali community said Aden had frequently made violent threats against Muslims and the mosque, but most interpreted them as hateful but ultimately harmless.
“Nobody took him seriously. Everybody would walk away,” Mohamed Abdikafi, a local business owner, who is Somali, told the Kansas City Star. “I wish we took him seriously.”
Anti-Muslim graffiti had been spotted on Aden’s vehicle before. On Friday, community members shared a photo with the media of Aden’s SUV with graffiti on its rear window that read, "Quran is a virus disease woreste [sic] than Ebola."
After his arrest, Aden told police he had been searching for men who had threatened him nine days earlier and planned to kill them. He said he mistook the teenager for one of the men and deliberately ran over him.
While Aden has a short criminal record -- a DUI and a ticket from the Missouri Highway Patrol for driving a vehicle that exceeded the maximum weight limit – he was involved in an assault at a Somali market in Kansas City in October.
The Kansas City Police Department released a report from a telephone interview Aden gave on Oct. 25 regarding the incident. The victim declined to press charges.
“The (suspect) stated to me that several people from … Islam (were) going to kill him,” the officer wrote. “I then asked the (suspect) why they want to kill him, and he stated that he was only practicing his freedom of press/expression.”
The victim’s uncle, Abdinajib Dirir, said Sheikh-Hussein’s family are Somali refugees. His father, Adullahi Mohamud, is an assistant to the imam at the mosque where Sheikh-Hussein was killed.
“There are no words to describe,” Dirir said. “This is a community that fled a violent situation. Now we’re facing violence in the United States. … We are American like everyone else. And this is a tragedy for us.”