Classmates, family grieve as they remember teen killed in hit-and-run

 

A sophomore at Staley High School was killed Thursday night after police say he was purposely hit by an SUV.

Now the Federal Bureau of Investigation says they are working in conjunction with the Kansas City, MO, Police Department to investigate any possible Federal Civil Rights violations and the potential of a hate crime.

Police said 15-year-old Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein, whose classmates called “Adam,” had just walked out of the Somali Center of Kansas City at Admiral Boulevard and Lydia Avenue Thursday about 5:23 p.m. He was standing outside a Toyota about to get in when a driver in an SUV appeared to have intentionally swerved towards the teen.

The day after the crash, grieving family and friends gathered for traditional Friday prayer, but the service was a somber one.

“There's no words to describe, we had a big loss, I lost my nephew," said Abdinajib Dirir, the teen's uncle. “Just somebody come and kill? I don't have the words to describe it."

He was among the men who surrounded Abdisamad's grieving father at the mosque to offer their support.

“Everybody pray for him that he is will be in a better place... we're all going to meet in paradise," Dirir said.

Another adult was standing outside with Abdisamad and other people were in the car when the SUV barreled towards them. All were hurt.

Police caught the man who tried to drive from the scene and then run from the vehicle. Ahmed H. Aden, 34, now faces charges of first-degree murder, armed criminal action, leaving the scene of an accident and unlawful use of a weapon.

Family members said Abdisamad was just leaving prayer at the mosque where his father is the mosque leader when this tragic hit-and-run happened. He was rushed to the hospital where he later died.

“He was smart in school, he knew about religion, it's just kind of shocking to see him gone," said a friend who didn't want to give his name.

Some in the community said they recognize the SUV as the one once covered in anti-Quran graffiti, driven by a man who has since been banned from Somali markets and restaurants for his rants against Muslims.

They showed KCTV5 a photo they took two months ago. The writing on the back window read, "Quran is a virus disease woreste [sic] than Ebola."

One community member says people confronted the man in that SUV back then and it turned violent.

"Some of my friends were like, 'Why are you doing this?'" Abdul Mohamed said. "Things got bad, they started arguing and he pulled a gun."

The North Kansas City School District confirmed that the victim was a student at Staley. Students took to social media to show their concern and offer support to his family. Many spoke about how intelligent he was.

"We feel sorry for his parents because he was an innocent kid. He didn't deserve to die this way, he didn't know anything that was going on," said Abdisamad's classmate, Kahluna Bouchard.

Kahluna is from Uganda and shared English as a second language class with Abdisamad.

"I just really don't understand. I don't understand, people I guess hate you, be against you because of what you believe in or what you are. It shouldn't be like that. We should all be equal,” Kahluna said.

As they deal with the loss of a fellow student, nearly all of Abdisamad's classmates signed a banner that will be delivered to his family Friday night.

"We signed this poster, everybody signed it so we're going to tell his parents how we feel, that he was a great kid, he always had a smile on his face so we did this and (will) take it to his parents," Kahluna said.

The school's principal, Clark Mershon, issued a notice to parents about the young man's death."Today has been a difficult day for us as we have lost an important member of our Falcon Family, sophomore, (Adam) Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein. Today we had students and staff caring and supporting one another during this difficult time. We had counselors here from our sister high schools helping students and staff. We will continue to have their support through Monday of next week. If was very appropriate for several of our students to provide an outlet for the Falcon Community to express their thoughts to Adam's family through the writing of heartfelt messages during lunch today. We remembered Adam prior to the end of school with a moment of silence. There are no words that can adequately express our sorrow."After charges were announced against the suspect, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Bakers talked about the crime."This is a completely innocent 15-year-old young man that had much to offer. He had much to offer all of us and as of today he is no longer with us," she said. "And so this individual who is responsible for that, for whatever his reasons there were, I seek very firmly to hold him responsible for his actions."

She went on to say that this crime affects the entire city.

"There's never really words that I can express when victims lose their life in our city. Especially when it is done in such a horrific, awful way like in this case," she said. "There are not words to express my feelings about these types of cases, but what I am able to do is bring the highest possible charge that I have, which is murder in the first degree."

Other groups offered their sympathy in statements. Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff of The Temple, Congregation B'nai Jehudah in Overland Park wrote:“We are deeply saddened that a teenager in our community was tragically killed last night. While we do not know for certain at this point that this was a hate crime, we are grateful that the FBI is investigating it as such. Hate speech and violent hate crimes tear at the fabric of our society. An attack targeting one religious community is an attack on us all.”

“As faith leaders, we stand against hate. We weep with those in our community who are weeping, and we commit ourselves to working together to build a community -- both in Kansas City and nationally – that is free from bigotry and hatred. We are a wounded community, and as religious leaders, no matter what our faith, we are called to be part of the healing process.”Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance, sent the following letter to Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City and a similar letter to other Muslim leaders in the area.

Gaddy wrote to offer his support and the support of the wider interfaith community:“I write to you today to promise that no matter how pronounced the voices and actions of those who seek to isolate and denigrate American Muslims, the interfaith community will stand stronger in defense of religious freedom and equal rights.”

“It is troubling to reflect that recently I have had to write similar statements to the leaders of communities not so far away from your own, including the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park and the Flood Christian Church near Ferguson. The purveyors of hate who seek to terrorize minority communities in America are not limited in the targets of their vitriol.”On Friday the Heartland Muslim Council released a statement on the possible hate crime:"Kansas City Muslim community is deeply shocked at the hit and run, apparently intentional assault last evening outside a mosque on Admiral Boulevard in Midtown Kansas City. The attack resulted in the death of a teenager and serious injuries to another teenager. Our thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families and friends.""We ask the federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this attack as a possible hate crime.""We commend the Kansas City Police Department for apprehending the suspected killer immediately after the crime. We hope the suspect will be charged and brought to full justice.""In light of the increased attacks on the mosques across the nation, we appeal to the law enforcement departments to provide extra safety and security to the mosques, Islamic schools and Muslim businesses."Abdisamad's funeral services will be held on Saturday at the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City at 1 p.m.Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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