KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An SUV driver accused of deliberately running down a Muslim teenager in Kansas City was charged Friday with first-degree murder in a case that’s being investigated by federal authorities as a possible hate crime.
Ahmed H. Aden, 34, of Kansas City, was charged Friday in Jackson County in the crash outside a Somali community center that killed 15-year-old Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein. Prosecutors are requesting a $250,000 bond. No attorney is listed for Aden in online court records.
A probable cause statement said Aden was driving the sport utility vehicle that hit the teen as the boy got into a car Thursday evening. A witness reported seeing the teen “fly through the air” before the SUV ran over him. The teen’s legs were nearly severed, and he died in a hospital of his wounds.
Court documents said Aden drove the SUV into a tree and got out of the vehicle with a knife. Occupants of the car told officers they followed Aden, and they pointed him out to police.
Aden initially told authorities that he lost control of his vehicle and that there was an accident. He later said he struck the teen because he thought he looked like a man who had threatened him several days earlier, the probable cause statement said.
Federal agents are assisting in the investigation and “also have opened this matter as a federal civil rights investigation as a potential hate crimes violation,” according to FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton.
Patton said she couldn’t release any information on why the case could be considered a hate crime, but Muslim leaders had called for such an investigation early Friday.
In the weeks before the crash, worshippers said they saw a black SUV painted with threatening messages at the center and cruising around a nearby shopping area. One of the messages was “Islam Is Worse Than Ebola,” said Mohamed Ahmed, 13, of Kansas City.
“I would have thought the police would have taken care of it, but they didn’t,” he said.
There is no mention of those incidents in court records and police didn’t immediately comment on whether they’re connected to the teen’s death.
Mohamed Farah, a 50-year-old friend of the boy’s family, said he called police more than once in October about a suspicious man who was coming around the center.
“I feel like I lost a part of my body,” he said after the teen’s death.
Baker Abdalla, 31, of Kansas City, said the boy’s father was a teacher at the center. He said the man who had been frequenting the area with hateful messages “was like a bullet in a gun waiting to be triggered.”
Khadra Dirir, the victim’s aunt, said her nephew regularly studied the Quran and had delivered a group prayer the night he died.
“If you asked him a verse, he could tell the chapter,” she said. “I feel like I woke up in a bad dream.”