Lauderdale man charged with shooting at five Somali men

MINNEAPOLIS -- A Lauderdale, Minnesota, man is accused of making a profane comment about Islam and then shooting at five Somali men in Minneapolis in June.

MINNEAPOLIS -- A Lauderdale, Minnesota,  man is accused of making a profane comment about Islam and then shooting at five Somali men in Minneapolis in June.

Anthony J. Sawina, 26, was charged Friday in Hennepin County District Court with five counts of assault with a dangerous weapon. He's currently jailed with bail set at $750,000.

According to court documents filed by prosecutors, Sawina ran into the men near 14th Avenue and 6th Street Southeast around 2:30 a.m. on June 29. The Somali men were leaving a basketball court; Sawina was in a group leaving a bar.

At least one of the Somali men was wearing traditional clothing for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. According to the charges, one of the people in Sawina's group said: "What's that dress you're wearing?"

As the Somali men went to leave in a car, one of them heard someone in Sawina's group say: "(expletive) Muslims," according to court documents.


One of the Somali men asked why he would say that. Two of the men in Sawina's group approached the car, the charges said.

At that point, Sawina is alleged to have said: "What if someone said it? What if?" then pulled a handgun and fired at the car as the Somali men scattered.

Two of them were hit in the legs and taken to a hospital. Officers who responded saw bullet holes in the car, the charges said.

Police searched for Sawina for three weeks. He was found and arrested Thursday, with one pistol on him and another at home.

Minneapolis police said they were investigating the shooting as a "bias-motivated crime," and local Islamic leaders have decried it.

Justin Bruntjen, Sawina's attorney, said Tuesday that Sawina "is not a racist person" and has no history of racism.

"Once more information and all evidence comes to light, that will be proven," he said.

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