The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office and Minnesota BCA are investigating a death in Shoreview, Minn., after a body was found in the road Thursday morning -- and FOX 9 has learned it may be connected to a Twin Cities gang war that may have found its fourth life in the past couple of months.
The body of a man was found in the area of Hamline Avenue and County Road I. He did not have ID on him, and the Ramsey County Medical Examiner has yet to identify him.
The body was dumped sometime before dawn in a quiet, upscale neighborhood. Sources told FOX 9 the man was a young Somali American.
The man could be the latest casualty in a deadly war between two Somali gangs -- the Somali Outlaws and the Madhibaan with Attitude, or MWA. They've had a longstanding rivalry stretching back years, and the body found on Thursday is hardly the first found in the history of the feud.
A BLOODY SUMMER
Two weeks ago in Burnsville, a gunman injured one man and killed 23-year-old Abdifatah Mahumod.
On the Fourth of July, Muhyadin Farah was shot and killed inside an apartment at Lake Street and Grand Avenue in south Minneapolis.
A month before, Mohamed Aden was shot to death while sitting in his car outside a party at University and Lowry avenues in northeast Minneapolis.
The latest discovery marks four killings, all possibly connected and all unsolved.
LANGUAGE BARRIER SLOWS INVESTIGATION
Law enforcement has known about the rivalry, and half a dozen intelligence bulletins have gone out; however, language can be a barrier for police.
A few police sources familiar with the intelligence on the two gangs told FOX 9 News the key point in the rivalry stems from a double murder in south Minneapolis that took place six years ago. Two young Somali men were gunned down in an alley, and the two suspects fled the country.
The groups themselves are also loosely affiliated, which presents an additional challenge because police don't know who all the players are.
SOMALI YOUTH RESPOND WITH OUTREACH
"It's definitely not one thing. That's what we know for a fact," Abdul Mohamed told FOX 9 News. "A lot of different things, we're trying to figure out."
From their situation room, the youth group Ka Joog has been trying to get a handle on the violence. In Somali, "ka joog" means "stay away." In this case, it's from gangs and other temptations.
Mohamed spoke to one of the gang members two weeks before he was killed.
"They themselves don't realize they're in it until it's too late," Mohamed explained. "That's when we have to get in there and pull them out."
Ka Joog tries to accomplish that goal through education and outreach.The group is an impressive collection of young men who are about the same age as those currently killing one another.
"We opened up the first chapter of Boy Scouts because we're no longer just Somali. We're Americans," one member said.
While police may eventually find the killers, the members of Ka Joog say they want to find the solution.
"We've been silent much too long -- especially when it comes to our own people losing their lives," Mohamed told FOX 9.
Deputies would only describe the investigation as an "isolated incident," adding that the public is not believed to be at risk.