Four men testified Wednesday about what happened during a shooting in the Dinkytown neighborhood last June that wounded two Somali-American men heading to prayer.
Anthony Sawina of Lauderdale, 26, is charged with nine felony counts, included attempted murder, for shooting and wounding the two men. His attorney said Sawina fired his gun in self-defense.
Abdirahman Hassan, 25, was driving his cousin's car the night of the shooting. He testified in Hennepin County District Court that Sawina was spoiling for a fight. "He was trying to provoke us. He knew what he had," said Hassan referring to the gun.
Defense attorney Murad Mohammad didn't let that comment sit. "That's your opinion," he said.
Hassan also described the sense of panic and fear in the car as he drove away from the shooting. He said he could hear Hussein Gelle, 22, yelling out in pain from a gunshot wound to his left leg.
Hassan said he also remembered hearing the shot that passed over his head and struck the front windshield of the car. "I ducked, or I would have died," said Hassan, who added that he thought he'd been shot too.
Abdullahi Aden, 20, was also wounded in the leg. He testified that he didn't feel it until he tried to step out of the car at the hospital. "I tried to put my right leg down and I felt the worst pain ever," said Aden.
Much of the questioning focused on what happened immediately before the shooting. Both prosecution and defense attorneys tried to nail down when Sawina produced the gun and started firing.
Gelle, who was in the back seat of the car, testified Tuesday that he wasn't sure if the man in the passenger seat, Hanad Abdi, got out of the car before or after he saw Sawina pull the gun.
Abdi, 19, testified Wednesday that he opened the door of the car and stood up to ask Sawina why he would say something insulting about Muslims. Some of the men with Abdi that night testified that minutes before the shooting, Sawina was in a group of people when they heard someone from the group say "f--- Muslims." None of the men who've testified so far have said they saw Sawina say that.
However, Aden, who was in the back seat of the car, said Sawina walked up to them and said, "'I said f--- Muslims. What are you going to do about it?'"
Aden also testified that the comment made him think that something was wrong with Sawina. "He's straight racist," testified Aden. Sawina is white. Aden and his friends are black.
Abdi said that comment made him angry. So, he got out of the car to ask Sawina how he would feel if someone said something insulting to Christianity, "assuming he was a Christian," said Abdi.
Almost immediately, Abdi said he saw Sawina pull the gun. He turned and ran. Security camera video from a nearby storefront shown at trial shows Abdi sprinting away. However, the video doesn't show the scene of the shooting.
All five men who were in the car that night have testified. They've all said they didn't threaten Sawina.
However, defense attorney Mohammad told jurors in his opening statement that Sawina was trying to defend himself.
Correction (May 4, 2017): Sawina's age was incorrect in a previous version of this story.