The tragic story of what happened to Morgan Evenson two weeks before Christmas is starting to gain traction in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Ignored by the city’s largest newspaper, the Star Tribune, a second local TV station picked up the story Tuesday about the brutal attack by a Somali migrant that left the 26-year-old woman in a hospital bed with 14 stab wounds and a lacerated kidney.
It’s been nearly three weeks since a man described as a Somali immigrant attacked Evenson while she was walking home from work in uptown Minneapolis, slashing and stabbing her relentlessly while trying to drag her off of a public street.
She did not know the man and has no idea why he attacked her.
Police still haven’t made any arrests in the case but say they are working multiple leads.
The fact that a Somali migrant targeted a young white woman while walking alone, and that he remains on the loose, has women watching their backs.
Several women told Fox 9 KMSP they are afraid to walk alone on the streets of this popular shopping district that they previously thought was safe.
And now the victim herself is speaking out, revealing new information about her attacker that cast doubt upon the official police narrative about what happened that night.
Minneapolis police said after the Dec. 13 attack that they considered it an attempted robbery.
Crime Prevention Specialist Jennifer Neale told the Southwest Journal on Dec. 20: “We’re still scratching our heads about it, because it’s just so brazen,” noting the level of violence used to “get a purse.”
There’s only one problem with that statement.
Evenson says the man made no attempt to snatch her purse.
She fought back with all she had as he continuously thrust his knife into her torso, wrists, arms and shoulders. She resisted long enough for a male pedestrian to hear her screams and come running to her aid, sending the Somali attacker fleeing.
After being released from the hospital Evenson immediately moved out of state and said she fears for the safety of her friends still living in uptown Minneapolis, where she worked at the Apple Store in a shopping district that includes Victoria’s Secret, high-end jewelry stores and coffee shops.
She said she got a clear look at her attacker, whom she described as a black man in his early 20s, thin build, low-cut afro and a slight Somali accent.
He sneaked up from behind and tackled her to the ground, then started stabbing.
“I would say it was two to three minutes of struggling with him as he was dragging me through the snow,” Evenson told Fox 9. “This person who did this to me is still out there. I don’t know if he intends to do this to someone else, or if this was a one-time thing. Was it because I was a woman? Was it the color of my skin? Was it the purse on my shoulder even though you didn’t take anything from me?”
She said she lives for the day when she could identify her attacker for the police.
“I don’t want this to change who I am because I don’t want to be a scared person but it would be so, so amazing to have this person turned in and to look at him in the face and to hopefully convict him of something.”
Despite Evenson’s clear description of the man, police have still not released a composite sketch of the suspect, which would seem to be a normal course of action in a case like this.
But the Minneapolis Police Department is no stranger to controversy when it comes to cases that involve Somali refugees. The city is home to the nation’s largest Somali-American population, more than 50,000 strong, almost all of them hand-selected for resettlement in the U.S. by the United Nations.
In August the fifth precinct’s first Somali police officer, Mohamed Noor, shot and killed an unarmed white woman, Justine Damond, but the department has yet to file any charges against the officer.
In the summer of 2016 a band of more than a dozen Somali men terrorized the city’s Linden Hills community for three straight days, threatening to rape a woman, beating one resident’s dog, and shouting “jihad!” as they drove vehicles over residents’ lawns and pretended to shoot people through their duffel bags. No arrests were made.
And then there was the mysterious 2014 apartment explosion in a Somali neighborhood of Minneapolis in which three people lost their lives. No arrests were ever made in that case either, nor any explanation for the cause of the explosion.
None of this sloppy police activity surprises former FBI counter-terrorism specialist John Guandolo. He says the sheriff of Hennepin County is easily manipulated by Muslim activist groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the local Somali imams.
“Minneapolis police and the sheriff’s office there are so in bed with the jihadis they don’t know which way is up,” Gondolo said.
That’s an accusation some might find alarming and even too sensational to believe. Yet, the best evidence may be the words coming directly from the mouth of Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek three years ago at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, comments that were captured on video by C-SPAN.
Stanek told the White House Summit in February 2015 that he basically gets all his information about what’s going on in Minneapolis’s Somali neighborhoods from a local Somali imam he affectionately referred to as “Imam Roble.”
Following is a transcript of Sheriff Stanek’s presentation:
“I’m so glad you all had a chance to hear from Imam Roble. And we’ve been friends for more than five years and any success the sheriff’s office has had in engaging the Somali diaspora in Hennepin County is due largely to imam Roble and his guidance, and his leadership,” the sheriff said. “At first traditional methods for building communities of trust weren’t working. We had language and cultural barriers that required new strategies. Translations were difficult at best. Men didn’t want women at meetings. The greatest barrier of all? Somalis were distrustful of law enforcement, because in their home country law enforcement often operates as the arm of an oppressive government. The key to overcoming these barriers was the one on one personal relationship between Imam Roble and myself. After many conversations he agreed to help us, and lend credibility to our efforts. Others trusted us, because he trusted us. He became our sponsor in the community. Personally asked members to attend special one-day citizens academies customized for the Somali community. The agenda? It was tailored to fit the interests and needs of the community, with translators and culturally appropriate meals, but we learned that it’s critical not to be seen as playing favorites. We let everyone know that we’d be working with the entire community, the elders, the religious leaders, women and youth. We followed up with actions that demonstrated our commitment. We hired the first sworn Somali deputy sheriff in Minnesota, we added a Somali community member as a civilian in our community engagement team, Abdi Mohamed. He works every day in building relationships between the community and my office. A Somali woman assisted us in adopting a new policy on religious head coverings, hijabs, in our jail. This new policy is just one way for my office to show we are not only listening, we we’re acting. With imam Roble’s guidance I’ve learned that the most important member of our community engagement team, is me. Our community members want and need to be respected, this isn’t a job to be delegate to somebody else but a responsibility to be shared throughout the entire agency, starting at the top.”