Police continue probe into killing of boys shot after Ramadan service in Kansas City

A group of men gathered mid-morning Saturday in the quiet parking lot of the Somali Center of Kansas City. They recalled how the night before, the two boys prayed in the red, brick building. They were killed a short time later, on the doorstep of their home.

After a few minutes, the Imam drove up, a look of concern on his face.

He told the men that the suspect in the double homicide of two teenage boys Friday was threatening to shoot other members of the community. The Imam urged them to leave the mosque, and go somewhere safe. The men quickly got into their cars and drove away.

The evening before, 16-year-old Abdulwahid Abdulaziz and 14-year-old Abdirahman Abdulaziz prayed with their community as part of a Ramadan service that ended at about 11 p.m.

Videos posted by the mosque from Friday night show Abdulwahid in a red sweatshirt, and Abdirahman in white, with eyes closed and arms folded gently across their chests. They prayed aloud, as other members of the mosque prayed behind them.

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It was the last time they would pray together.

‘Two rising stars’

Officers were called about 11:30 p.m. Friday to a shooting near East 8th and Olive streets, two blocks south of Independence Avenue in the city’s northeast area, according to Capt. Dave Jackson, a spokesman for the Kansas City Police Department.

There, officers found the two teenage boys with gunshot wounds just outside of an apartment. They had just returned home from a late night Ramadan service.

The victims were declared dead at the scene, Jackson said. Upon an initial investigation, detectives believed that a “domestic situation” involving a family member led to the shooting. No suspect was taken into custody at the time.

As officers and crime scene investigators moved around the crime scene, members of the mosque stopped by the yellow police tape to mourn the boys.

“Officers and detectives on scene heard story after story about these promising young men who were leaders both in their community and at their mosque,” the police department wrote on Twitter. “It’s become clear that Kansas City has lost two rising stars, and we will do everything we can to seek justice for them.”

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The men gathered Saturday morning recalled how the boys used to play in the mosque’s parking lot. They were active members of their faith community, often leading prayers, they said.

They were good kids with good grades, relatives said. They aspired to someday become leaders in the mosque, and even Imams.

Abdurahman Abu, 18, a member of the mosque and a friend of the family, told The Star that the boys were always smiling and brightening up other people’s days.

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“They were leaders in their community at a very young age,” Abu said. “These death are devastating and will always have an ever lasting effect on the local community. This incident has really shook us all.”

The boys loved going to the mosque and reading the Quran, as well as playing basketball with their friends, he said.

“Those poor boys,” Mayor Quinton Lucas wrote on Twitter. “We have a lot of tragic stories here. This is a particularly tough and heartbreaking one. I know their mosque and their community. My prayers to their families. And my prayers to all in the community carrying trauma like this.”

Family members now want to leave Kansas City, according to a GoFundMe donation set up by a friend.

“The Aunt wants to get all of the kids who survived out of Kansas City to try and get the burden of these deaths off their mind all day,” according to the page, adding that the boys were orphans. “Even though that will be hard, moving to another country could help them grief better and feel safer. We want to raise even more money now so they can not only pay for the funeral but to leave and find a safer home.”

The boys’ killings marked the 51st and 52nd homicides in Kansas City this year, according to data maintained by The Star.

Police have not yet provided a motive for the shooting.

‘A danger to the community’

On Saturday afternoon, family members told The Star that the suspect in the double homicide was the boys’ older brother, 25-year-old Hanad A. Abdiaziz.

One family member said Abdiaziz also threatened other relatives.

Police on Saturday afternoon issued an arrest warrant for Abdiaziz, whom they said was a suspect in the boys’ killing. A news release about the warrant was issued just after 6 p.m. Officers found him 15 minutes later.

Kansas City police identified themselves as they sought to make contact with Abdiaziz near Maple Boulevard and East Missouri Avenue, less than half a mile from where the shooting the day before, according to police.

Sgt. Andy Bell, a spokesman with Missouri State Highway Patrol, said Abdiaziz then “presented a firearm” that was believed to be a short-barreled rifle. Then, Bell said, “gunfire was exchanged.”

One Kansas City police officer fired his duty weapon and killed Abdiaziz, Bell said. No other officers fired.

Since last year, Missouri State Highway Patrol been the lead investigative agency of police shootings in Kansas City. Saturday marked the second time a Kansas City officer has shot and killed a suspect this year. The other was March 25.

Abdiaziz’s killing marked the 53rd homicide this year in Kansas City. There had been 55 killings by this time last year, which ended with 182 homicides, the most in the city’s history in a single year, according to The Star’s data.

Kansas City police continue to investigate the boys’ killings. The department said it had no updates on the investigation Sunday.

On Saturday night, Lucas said on Twitter that he was heartbroken for those in northeast Kansas City.

“We shouldn’t have to bury our young people,” he said.

Gun violence will be the subject of a new, statewide journalism project The Star is undertaking in Missouri this year in partnership with the national service program Report for America and sponsored in part by Missouri Foundation for Health. As part of this project, The Star will seek the community’s help.

To contribute, visit Report for America online at reportforamerica.org.

The Star’s Bill Lukitsch contributed to this report.

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