MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A shooting in the heart of Minneapolis’ Dinkytown last June left two young Somali men injured and led community activists to declare the incident an ugly case of racial and religious intolerance.
During the trial, Anthony Sawina admitted on the witness stand that he is the one who pulled the trigger. But, the two sides disagreed wildly on what led to the gunfire.
The case is now in the hands of a Hennepin County jury, a diverse group of nine women and three men who meet briefly on Tuesday and are expected to begin their deliberations in earnest first thing Wednesday morning.
Prosecutors contend that Sawina, armed and trained militarily, went looking for trouble that night.
There was a confrontation with the group of five Somali men on their way to Ramadan prayer, and words were apparently exchanged and bullets flew.
Prosecutor Patrick Lofton told jurors in his closing argument that “you can’t start a fight and then claim self-defense […] all he had to do was walk away.”
Sawina is charged with nine total counts - attempted first and second-degree murder - as well as assault.
His defense attorney Murad Mohammad told jurors his client feared for his safety, thinking the young men might be armed.
Apparently someone on the sidewalk had yelled “f-muslims,” ratcheting up the tension.
In his closing argument, Mohammad stated that “Anthony Sawina’s testimony is consistent and truthful, not exaggerated like the occupants in the vehicle.”