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Man accused of pulling gun on Somali teens in Eden Prairie McDonald’s leaves jail without charges

November 26, 2018

Prosecutors said Monday they are still looking into the case of a man who has been jailed for the past five days on allegations that he threatened teenagers with a gun inside a McDonald’s in Eden Prairie.

“We have deferred a decision on [charges in] the case because there is additional evidence we need to look at, and it was impossible to do it before the [legally established] deadline,” said Hennepin County Attorney’s Office spokesman Chuck Laszewski.

The decision allowed the 55-year-old Eden Prairie man to leave the Hennepin County jail Monday afternoon, where he had been held since Wednesday and throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The Star Tribune generally does not identify suspects before they are charged.

A Somali teenager told the Star Tribune last week that she confronted a white man the night of Nov. 19 in the fast-food restaurant over what she took as an ethnic slight and that he responded by waving a handgun at her and other young people before leaving.

Jihan Abdullahi, 17, said she and a friend both tried in vain to pay for an order with a retail app on their smartphone as the man stood behind them.

“As [we] are walking away, the man says under his breath, ‘You were paying with EBT; that’s why it didn’t work,’ ” Abdullahi said. EBT refers to government-funded food assistance.

Abdullahi said she responded, “ ‘Just because I’m black you think my friends and I live under EBT?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ ”

A video that has been viewed on Twitter more than 2.1 million times shows several young people in a confrontation with the man. It shows a teenage boy and the man pushing each other before the man stumbled backward and out the door.

At that point, people shouted that the man was holding a gun. A police report said the man allegedly pulled the firearm from his waistband.

Authorities have yet to say whether the man had a state-issued permit allowing him to carry a firearm in public.

Police filed a search warrant affidavit last week seeking to seize the restaurant’s video surveillance, and it points out that investigators cannot tell from patrons’ cellphone videos whether then man had a gun.

One of the teens who said he saw the man with a gun added that it was not pointed at anyone, and an employee who witnessed the encounter said that people in the crowd prevented him from seeing whether the man had a gun.

The employee, the court filing continues, said he heard the man say “don’t (expletive) touch me” and that he had a hand out in an effort to keep the teens away from him.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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