Two injured in shooting outside Mpls. community center

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Brian Coyle Community Center
Minneapolis police officers use flashlights to search the area of a shooting in front of the Brian Coyle Community Center on Monday evening, Jan. 24, 2011. Two young men were injured in the shooting.
MPR Photo/Laura Yuen

Two young men were shot and injured Monday night in a drive-by shooting outside of a popular Minneapolis community center, where another young man was shot to death three years ago.

The two men were standing near a front window around 5:30 p.m. when someone pulled up in a car and opened fire, said Tony Wagner, president of Pillsbury United Communities, the nonprofit that operates the Coyle Center.

Police say one man was shot in the torso, and the other in the leg. Both were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center and are expected to survive. Police did not release their names or their ages. A boy who was in the gym when the shooting occurred, Kamel Mohamud, 14, said he was playing basketball with the young men before they stepped outside the center.

Then chaos broke out, Mohamud said. "I heard gunshots. Then there were children and girls running and screaming. One was crying because she was at the place when the gunshot happened," he said. "It was really shocking, I was really scared."

Mohamud's cousin, Mohamed Aden Ali, 17, said he heard gunfire while he was across the street in the high-rise tower where he lives.

Ali said he doesn't feel safe in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

"Around here, Cedar, there's a lot of little children who like to play around, and anything can happen, especially in the summertime," Ali said.

In 2008, Ahmednur Ali, an Augsburg College student was fatally shot outside of the same center. The criminal case against the alleged gunman eventually fell apart after witnesses recanted.

Tonight, Ali said, tragedy "repeated itself again. Nothing changed."

There were no arrests in the Monday shoooting. Police are asking the public to call with any information.

Police originally described one of the shooting victims' injuries as life-threatening, but later said his condition has been stabilized.

After the shooting death of Ahmednur Ali, the Coyle Center put up several security cameras and additional lighting around the center, said Wagner, of Pillsbury United. He's hopeful that those cameras captured the shooting and can help investigators.

Wagner said he learned there was at least one other young man standing outside when the shooting erupted. That man apparently fled to escape the gunfire, Wagner said.

The center is a popular after-school hangout for children, especially among east African immigrants who live in the nearby residential towers. A couple of dozen neighbors, including worried parents, gathered around yellow police tape Monday night in the stinging cold.

Despite problems in the past with a lack of witness cooperation, Wagner said he's hopeful anyone with information will come forward.

"From our perspective, certainly things have improved in the Somali community's with this issue, and there's a huge desire in the Somali community to stop this as much as anyone else," he said.