KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An SUV involved in the death of a Missouri teenager outside a Somali community center had an anti-Muslim message displayed in the rear window at the time of the crash, Kansas City police confirmed Saturday.
Authorities say 34-year-old Ahmed H. Aden deliberately ran the boy over and have charged him with murder in a case that the FBI is investigating as a potential hate crime. Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein, 15, died at a hospital Thursday evening after his legs were nearly severed in the crash.
Kansas City police spokesman Darin Snapp told The Associated Press in an email that the SUV had been seen in the area by patrol officers in late October with a message that compared the Quran to the Ebola virus.
Hundreds of people came to Sheikh-Hussein's funeral Saturday afternoon at the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City, a day after dozens of friends and family members gathered for a prayer service where the teen was remembered as kind and faithful.
KMBC-TV reported many of the youth's friends from Staley High School were among those attending the funeral.
Friends said Sheikh-Hussein had been going to play basketball when he was run down so violently that a witness reported seeing the teen "fly through the air" after he was hit, according to a probable cause statement.
Court documents said Aden crashed the SUV and got out of the vehicle with a knife. Witnesses told officers they followed Aden and pointed him out to police. One said the suspect swung what appeared to be a baseball bat at people, and another said Aden threatened them with a handgun as he tried to get away on foot.
Aden initially told authorities that he lost control of his vehicle and that there had been an accident. He later said he struck the teen because he thought the boy looked like someone who had threatened him several days earlier, the probable cause statement said. Aden was being held in the Jackson County jail on Saturday. No attorney was listed for him in online court records.
The FBI said Friday it could not release any information on why the case could be considered a hate crime, but Muslim leaders had called for such an investigation.
In the weeks before the crash, people said, they saw a black SUV painted with threatening messages at the center and at 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.
Bakar Abdalla, 31, of Kansas City, said the boy's father was a teacher at the center. Khadra Dirir, the victim's aunt, said her nephew regularly studied the Quran, and "if you asked him a verse, he could tell the chapter." She said he had delivered a group prayer the night he died.