Family and friends gather on Nov. 14, 2019, around the grave of Shirwa Hassan Jibril at a cemetery in Burnsville. Shirwa was beaten to death by a group of men on Nov. 6 after he got off a bus at the Chicago Lake Transit Center. Credit: Abdirahman Mohamed | Sahan Journal

Shirwa Hassan Jibril was a schedule-oriented man. Each day, the 75-year-old would take public transit to Karmel Mall near Pillsbury and Lake to perform his daily prayers at a mosque inside the mall. Afterward, he would return to his home after 2 p.m. where he would nap and listen to the news. 

But on Nov. 6, Shirwa’s daily routines came to an end.

He boarded a bus home after visiting Karmel Mall for the noon prayer. A group of young men sat nearby. He told them to quiet down. Their interaction was documented by an onboard transit camera. 

During the bus ride, the group engaged in violent threats towards Shirwa. They walked alongside Shirwa when he got off the bus at the Chicago Lake Transit Center.

One of the men, Leroy Davis-Miles, then struck Shirwa, causing him to fall over and hit his head on the concrete. He died six days later at HCMC.

Davis-Miles was charged with second-degree murder.

On Nov. 14, Shirwa, a father of eight and grandfather to seven, was buried at a Muslim cemetery in Burnsville.

After laying their family patriarch to rest, Shirwa’s loved ones are still reeling over their loss.

Maslah Adam, his oldest son, described his father as a known community figure, one who would assist his fellow elders with documents and forms that needed filling out. 

“You would think his home was a library,” Maslah said of his father. 

He expressed some frustration with the length of time the medical examiner had kept the body. Islamic funerals are held shortly after the passing of an individual, within the next day if not hours. Maslah was told his father’s body would be held longer for investigatory purposes. 

“We need justice,” Maslah said. “If we don’t get justice, the other elders might be at risk.”

Maslah’s brother, Mohamed, became distraught when he visited his father at the hospital, knowing that he may not see his father alive again. 

“It was hard to see him in that state at the hospital,” Mohamed said. 

Mohamed related the grief his family has been put through following their loss. 

“We cry, we can’t sleep. We have barely been home and feel horrible about the situation.” 

He explained that his father’s active nature and travel came from having dealt with health issues. 

“He thought he’d get better with some outdoor activities,” Mohamed said.

Maslah and Mohamed are just two of Jibril’s eight children. Two others reside in the U.S. while four others are in Somalia. 

When asked about their mother’s reaction to the news, Adam shared the toll of the news. “You can imagine how she reacted this,” Maslah said. “She’s elderly herself and dealing with health issues as well, this brings on a lot more stress for her.” 

Minneapolis School Board Director Siad Ali, who knows the family and visited them to pay his respect and condolences, said some Somali elders are in fear of taking public transportation following the news of Shirwa’s attack. 

“This is a big blow to the community and they’re still hurting from this,” Ali said. “This incident touched us. He was loved, someone who was a mentor to others.” 

Mohamed Isse, a business owner in Karmel Mall, knew Jibril as a compassionate patron of the space, someone who would interact kindly with everyone he came across. 

“He was adored,” Mohamed said. “He used to speak with the old, the young, everyone was treated the same. He was an elderly man, but in his spirit he was young.”

Abdirahman Mohamed is a Somali journalist, filmmaker, and contributing reporter for Sahan Journal. Born in Mombasa, Kenya, Abdirahman was raised in St. Paul’s East Side. He works as a producer and specializes...