BLACKLICK (WCMH) — Was a local teen murdered because he’s Somalian? The Council for American-Islamic Relations, also known as CAIR, said in the wake of the shooting, many in the Somali community fear they’re being targeted.
Police haven’t ruled 15-year-old Mohamed Abdulkadir’s death a hate crime, but CAIR said after the shooting, many Somali families are worried they’ll be attacked because of their ethnicity.
NBC4 spoke with a Somali family in the neighborhood where the shooting happened. They said being Somalian had nothing to do with Abdulkadir’s death.
Suheyb Ahmed, 13, is having a hard time coping with the loss of his life-long friend.
“I was like, ‘It’s not possible, he can’t be dead. Like, it was somebody else. Maybe they were just confused,’” he said.
Suheyb and his mother Khadra didn’t want to show their faces on camera. They said Abdulkadir, who lived across the street, was like family.
“We were really close friends. He lives right there. We would always go play soccer or football or basketball together,” said Suheyb.
The Ahmed’s have lived in the Blacklick neighborhood for 14 years.
“I love this neighborhood and we don’t have any problems,” said Khadra.
They said they’ve never felt targeted at home or school.
“This issue is not for hate or racist, this is something came from the kids. We feel safe,” said Khadra.
Romin Iqbal, with CAIR Columbus said Somali families he spoke with in the neighborhood don’t feel the same.
”There’s a lot of fear in the community, in the Somali community,” said Iqbal.
He said they’re scared and that another Somali student was threatened after the shooting.
“I’ve been told that parents are not letting their children go outside and play in the park outside their homes,” said Iqbal.
Iqbal said he’s forwarded the information he’s gathered to the FBI and police.
Suheyb just started 8th grade. He said he loves school. Life just won’t be the same without Abdulkadir.
“He was at the wrong place wrong time,” he said.
The Licking Heights School District said CAIR told it about the alleged threat against a student Tuesday.
It said it will continue to work with police and said dozens of students have been interviewed as part of the ongoing investigation.