Somali teens tell story of gun incident at an Eden Prairie McDonald's

"The gunman said under his breath, 'You were probably trying to pay with EBT, or food stamps.' "

Susie Jones
December 03, 2018 - 3:56 pm

by Susie Jones

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It was last month when Jihan Abdullahi, 17, was at a McDonald's in Eden Prairie with friends when the startling incident occured. The McDonald's at 598 Prairie Center Dr. is popular hang out for kids from Eden Prairie and Hopkins.

"I was trying to pay for my food using an Apple Pay card, but it didn't work," Jihan told reporters on Monday. The group spoke at the offices of the Minnesota's Council on American Islamic Relations.

"The gunman said under his breath, 'You were probably trying to pay with EBT, or food stamps,'" said Abdullahi. She turned around and told the man,"Just because we are a group of black kids doesn't mean we are using food stamps."

That verbal altercation escalated, with her friends who were in the back of the restaurant coming to her aid.

"That's when he proceeded to pull out his gun," said Abdullahi.

The man has now been charged with making terrorist threats in Hennepin County.

"You don't take your frustrations out by saying pejorative things, because they are kids and perhaps because they are Somali-American," said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. "It does not appear that right now the evidence shows that he actually pointed at them, but he took it out and waived it at them, and threatened them and told them that he had a gun and a number of witnesses saw it."

The incident was captured on video and posted on social media, causing an outcry in the Somali-American community in the Twin Cities.

"We saw nothing from the McDonald's staff if they had a plan for de-escalation," said Jaylani Hussein, the Executive Director of MN CAIR. "And more importantly, to safeguard the teenagers, and the customers."

Hussein said the managers at McDonald's went so far as to force all of the teenagers out of the store, where the man with the gun had just exited.

"We could have been killed," said one of the teens.

Hussein said in these times, companies need to be proactive when it comes to protecting its clients, and customers.

"In an era where mass shootings are becoming more common, McDonald's staff  untrained, racially profiling, and unable to recognize the threat of gun violence," said Hussein.
 

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