The FBI announced Friday it was investigating the fatal, and apparently intentional, hit-and-run incident that killed a 15-year-old Muslim Somali boy as a potential hate crime.
The boy, identified by police Friday as Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein, was killed early Thursday evening as he was leaving the Somali Center of Kansas City at Admiral Boulevard and Lydia Avenue.
“We’re working jointly with the Kansas City Police Department,” said FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton, “but we have opened this as a civil rights investigation into a potential hate crimes violation.”
A Kansas City Muslim group and a Kansas group with ties to a national organization called Friday for such a federal probe following the boys death in what witnesses told police appeared to be a deliberate attempt to strike the teenager with an SUV about 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Abdisamad, a sophomore at Staley High School in Kansas City, Kan., had his legs nearly severed in the incident Thursday and he was taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital where he died, a dispatcher confirmed.
The Kansas City Muslim Community is “deeply shocked,”according to a press release from Zulfiqar Malik, a board member with the Heartland Muslim Council.
“We ask federal law enforcement to investigate this attack as a possible hate crime,” Malik said in the release.
In another release, the Kansas Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations cited Somali Center officials as saying a man had been threatening Muslims in Kansas City for months. It also said the vehicle involved in the boy’s death was seen months before bearing anti-Islamic message written on a rear window in broken English.
“We urge federal authorities to get involved in this case in order to send the message that our nation’s leaders will not allow American Muslims to be targeted because of their faith,” CAIR-Kansas Chairman Moussa Elbayoumy said in a news release on Friday.
The victim and another person were getting into a parked car when the driver of a Chevrolet SUV, eastbound on Admiral, sideswiped them. Witnesses said the vehicle crossed the center line and appeared to target the pedestrians on the north side of the street.
“This was intentional,” said police Sgt. Bill Mahoney.
The victim was thrown by the impact.
The SUV was disabled by the crash. The driver, described as in his mid-30s, was alone in the vehicle. He fled on foot but was quickly arrested. Police said he had a machete and other weapons.
The Heartland Muslim Council commended police for arresting the suspect so quickly.
“We hope the suspect will be charged and brought to full justice,” the press release said.
Police on Thursday declined to speculate on a motive and were interviewing witnesses. The incident is being investigated by the assault squad, Mahoney said.
Mark Morris, Tony Rizzo and Robert A. Cronkleton contributed to this report.
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