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Seward shooting suspects charged with murder

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Mahdi Hassan Ali, Ahmed Shire Ali
These undated images provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff shows Mahdi Hassan Ali (left) and Ahmed Shire Ali, both of Minneapolis. The two were each charged on three counts of murder in the Jan. 6 killings at Seward Market and Halal Meat. The teens were charged as adults. They are both Somali and are not related.
AP Photo/Hennepin County Sheriff

First-degree murder charges were filed Thursday against two 17-year-old males in the shooting at a Minneapolis corner market that left three men dead. 

The charges were filed in Hennepin County against Ahmed Shire Ali and Mahdi Hassan Ali, who are automatically subject to trials as adults. 

"It's a tragic, senseless shooting. It's a robbery gone bad," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at a news conference.

According to the criminal complaint, the pair entered Seward Market last Wednesday evening wearing masks. Speaking in Somali, Ahmed Shire Ali told two witnesses not to move. Prosecutors said Mahdi Hassan Ali was the one with a gun. 

The two witnesses who were told not to move heard someone yell, "This is a robbery" from the front of the store, according to the complaint. 

Surveillance video showed Mahdi Hassan Ali direct two store employees at gunpoint onto the floor and demand money. The video then shows a customer walk in and interrupt the robbery. Mahdi Hassan Ali shot the customer, according to the complaint. Mahdi Hassan Ali is then accused of shooting one of the store employees he had ordered to the ground. 

Mahdi Hassan Ali and Ahmed Shire Ali were running from the store, but Mahdi Ali ran back into the store, chased down, shot and killed a third man as he attempted to make a cell phone call, according to the complaint. 

Mahdi Hassan Ali
This undated image provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff shows Mahdi Hassan Ali. Mahdi Hassan Ali and Ahmed Shire Ali, both of Minneapolis, were each charged on three counts of murder in the Jan. 6 killings at Seward Market and Halal Meat. The teens were charged as adults. They are both Somali and are not related. ()
AP Photo/Hennepin County Sheriff

Ahmed Shire Ali told police he wasn't carrying a weapon and that his co-defendant shot all three victims, the complaint said. Ahmed Shire Ali admitted to police that he confronted two witnesses to keep them from interfering in the robbery.

Both Ahmed Shire Ali, who was also known as Ahmed Abdi Ali, and Mahdi Hassan Ali remained in custody, each on $3 million bail. 

Freeman and Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan spoke briefly about the charges and answered questions at the news conference, declining to offer much information beyond what's listed in the complaints.

"We have two first degree murder trials awaiting us so the chief and I are not going to say anything today that are going to jeopardize those trials," Freeman said.

Ahmed Shire Ali
This undated image provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff shows Ahmed Shire Ali. Mahdi Hassan Ali and Ahmed Shire Ali, both of Minneapolis, were each charged on three counts of murder in the Jan. 6 killings at Seward Market and Halal Meat. The teens were charged as adults. They are both Somali and are not related.
AP Photo/Hennepin County Sheriff

The victims were 28-year-old Osman Jama Elmi of St. Paul, 30-year-old Mohamed Abdi Warfa of Savage, and 31-year-old Anwar Salah Mohammed of Brooklyn Park. Warfa was a store employee, Mohammed was the customer who walked in, and Elmi was the man who was shot while on his cell phone. Elmi and Warfa were Somali. Mohammed was Oromo.

Following a news conference Thursday by prosecutors, several leaders in the Somali and Oromo communities thanked the Minneapolis Police Department and prosecutors for solving the crime quickly. 

Dahir Jibreel, director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, said community members feel very sorry for the families of the teens who are accused in the crime.

"This is not what they hoped for their children," Jibreel said. "They hoped for a different outcome."

(MPR reporter Tim Nelson contributed to this report.)