Crime

Recent Shootings in Rochester May Be Drug Related, Involve Somali-Americans

Photos: Olmsted County Adult Detention Center. Shooting suspects Idris Haji-Mohamed and Abdi Abukar,

ALPHA NEWS — ROCHESTER, Minn. – A recent rash of shootings, with two occurring in broad daylight, over the past few weeks in Rochester are most likely drug related, according to police.

Captain John Sherwin of the Rochester Police Department told Alpha News that the most recent shooting occurred on Sunday, May 7 at 12:54 p.m. when a 36-year-old man driving on North Broadway in Rochester noticed a black Chevy Impala was following him and speeding toward his vehicle. Sherwin said the Impala caught up to the victim’s vehicle and shots were fired. The victim’s car was hit three times, with the rounds entering the vehicle, but the victim was not hit.

The victim said that he recently received information from a friend that three people were looking for him in connection with his involvement in a prior criminal case from a few years ago.

The victim was able to identify the shooters. Police arrested Abdulkadir Abukar, 26, and Kaisar Nur, 28. The men were arrested and charged with second-degree assault and drive-by shooting.

Sherwin said the shooting was not related to another midday shooting in Rochester that occurred on May 2 in a busy parking lot shared by a bank and three restaurants, where two men have been charged with attempted murder.

According to Sherwin, that incident occurred during lunchtime on May 2. Police were called to a parking lot near the Olive Garden Restaurant at 331 16th Avenue NW at 12:52 p.m. after they received several calls about shots being fired in the parking lot adjacent to a Denny’s Restaurant and Wild Bill’s Sports Saloon.

The suspects ran into Denny’s and then ran across the street to Kutzky Park, disappearing behind tennis courts. Police eventually located the two suspects and detained them. The men, identified by eyewitnesses, were 21-year-old Abdi Abukar of Rochester and 22-year-old Idris Haji-Mohamed, also of Rochester.

KROC-AM reports eyewitnesses identified Abukar as the man firing shots at a third man who was running through the parking lot. Police are still searching for the man who was being fired at. KAAL-TV reports several cars were hit during the shootout, but no one was hurt.

Both Abukar and Haji-Mohamed were arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder and second-degree assault, Sherwin told Alpha News. KROC-AM News reports conditional bail for the two suspects was set at $500,000 for this recent incident.

A discarded revolver was found in the park, however, Sherwin said police believe that two guns were involved in the midday shootout, as some shell casings found in the nearby bank parking did not belong to the revolver. Sherwin told Alpha News that police believe the underlying issue for the midday shooting was drug related.

Just the day before the May 2 parking lot shooting, Abukar was released from custody in another drug case and was awaiting sentencing in a second drug case, according to the Post Bulletin.

Abukar pleaded guilty on April 3 in Olmsted County District Court to one of two identical felony counts of third-degree drug sale. He posted $40,000 conditional bail in March, which was allowed to remain in place after his guilty plea and is scheduled to be sentenced in the case on May 24.

The Post Bulletin reported that Abukar was back to selling crack cocaine less than two weeks after the April 3 plea, according to court documents. A warrant for his arrest was issued on April 25 after an undercover drug sale confirmed the crime. Abukar turned himself in on Monday, May 1st and appeared before Judge Dennis J. Murphy on one count each of second-degree drug sale and third degree drug possession, both felonies. Murphy set conditional bail at $20,000, which Abukar posted immediately according to the Post Bulletin report.

An incident on April 3 may be connected to the May 7 shooting where Rochester police were called to the scene of a shooting that left 16 bullet holes in cars and an apartment building. KTTC-TV reported a 36-year-old man from Minneapolis was shot at when he drove into the cul-de-sac of the 2700 block of 56th Street NW around 9:45PM.

The victim said he parked his car and saw a person near a tree running toward his Chevy Tahoe, shooting a gun. The victim hid underneath his steering wheel waiting for the shooting to stop. The victim saw the suspect run between nearby apartment complexes and get into a parked car that went westbound on 55th Street NW before running a red light on Bandel Road NW. The suspect is still at large.

Police reported 16 shots were fired hitting the victim’s Tahoe, another nearby car and an apartment building. No one was reported hurt. Sherwin told KTTC-TV that he doesn’t believe this was a random shooting.

Sherwin told Alpha News that police do not have any evidence that points to a specific suspect in this case, however, some of the names of suspects that have come up in this incident are the same names as the shooting that took place on May 7.

Despite the recent rash of shootings, Sherwin said there is not an uptick in crime in Rochester, telling Alpha News that crime in Rochester is actually down this year.

“There have been no homicides in Rochester this year. The recent shootings have been confined to a small group of people. We know who these people are,” Sherwin said.

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