Brian Coyle Center shooting leaves two Somali men wounded

Ahmednur Ali was shot and killed at the Brian Coyle Center in Sept. 2008
Ahmednur Ali was shot and killed at the Brian Coyle Center in Sept. 2008

A drive-by shooting outside Brian Coyle Community Center last night left two Somali men wounded and rekindled fears about gang violence.

Neither the victims nor the suspects have been named by police. One of the injured men suffered a life-threatening gut shot, but had stomach surgery overnight at Hennepin County Medical Center and is expected to survive. The other man got away with an injury to the leg.

"We don't think this was a random shooting," says Tony Wagner, president of Pillsbury United Communities, the organization that runs Brian Coyle.

This is the second time in recent memory that the community center has been the stage for shootings of Somali men. Back in September 2008, an angry teenager shot and killed Ahmednur Ali, a 20-year-old volunteering at Brian Coyle for the very first day.

At around 5:30 p.m. last night, three or four young Somali men were hanging out in front of the entrance to Brian Coyle. The men weren't part of any program at the community center, Wagner says.

Suddenly, a car pulled into the parking lot. Someone inside pulled a gun and fired, shooting two of the men. Someone dialed 911 and the victims were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center.

"The one with the stomach wound was operated on last night, and the surgery was successful," says Wagner. "Both were expected to survive."

Police haven't yet released the names of the men involved, but Qasim Bashir, a youth worker at Brian Coyle, said one of them is nicknamed "Mussolini."

Wagner doesn't believe any of the children participating in after-school programs at the center saw the victims get shot. However, a group of girls working in a room that looked out onto the parking lot could have seen the car pull up, and certainly heard the gunshots.

Youth workers are now fielding calls from parents who are scared to bring their frightened children back to Brian Coyle. The center plans to bring in trauma workers to help the children process what happened.

Meanwhile, Bashir is hearing reports that indicate the shooting was gang-related.

"Probably, I would lean on that way," he says. "I think they know who they shot."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: * Minneapolis Somali community facing dark web of murders * Guilty verdict in Somali slaying * Three men shot dead inside Franklin Avenue Somali grocery * James Scott Miller charged with threatening to use Somalis as "target practice" * Mahdi Hassan Ali to be tried as adult in Seward triple homicide

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