Clockwise from top left: Sahra Gesaade, Sagal Hersi and Siham Odhowa, Salma Abdikadir and Sahra Gesaade, and Sabiriin Ali. Credit: Courtesy of Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center

Derrick Thompson was charged Thursday in state and federal court for speeding through a red light in Minneapolis last week and killing five young women. Authorities allege that a semi-automatic handgun, more than 2,000 fentanyl pills, cocaine, and other drugs were found in his car.

Thompson, 27, of Brooklyn Park, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with 10 counts of criminal vehicular homicide. He fled the June 16 crash scene at Lake Street and 2nd Avenue on foot, but was arrested that night.

He is accused of killing Sabiriin Ali, 17; Sahra Gesaade, 20; Salma Abdikadir, 20; Sagal Hersi, 19; and Siham Odhowa, 19. The close-knit friends had just gotten henna applied for a friend’s wedding the next day before Thompson’s rental SUV broadsided their car a little after 10 p.m.

Thompson is the son of former Minnesota Representative John Thompson, who has not returned messages about his son’s case.

Derrick Thompson was also charged in federal court with possession of a firearm as a felon, possession of fentanyl, and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. He faces a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years if convicted on the charges, and could face up to life in prison. 

“After obtaining a warrant to search the SUV, officers found a black leather bag on the front passenger side floor that contained a loaded Glock pistol with an extended magazine, as well as three baggies containing 2,169 blue ‘M-Box 30’ fentanyl pills, a baggie containing an additional 14 grams of powder fentanyl, a baggie containing 13 MDMA pills, a baggie containing 35 grams of cocaine, and a digital scale,” said a news release from the Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Thompson has a prior felony conviction, so he is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.

In the state case, prosecutors will seek a separate sentence for each victim if Thompson is convicted, according to a news release from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

In Minnesota, criminal vehicular homicide is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine. Prison sentences can vary depending on a defendant’s criminal history, among other factors.

Toxicology and DNA test results for Thompson are pending.

“The deaths of these five young women is devastating for their loved ones and has shaken our community,” Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said in a written statement issued Thursday. “We value each of these young women’s lives and plan to seek a separate sentence for each life lost.

“I firmly believe in the potential for redemption and second chances, but Mr. Thompson has repeatedly engaged in extraordinarily dangerous criminal driving conduct related to apparent large-scale drug dealing. He has caused immeasurable pain and suffering in multiple states and we will seek a significant sentence that appropriately reflects the devastation he has caused and ensures a lengthy period of incapacitation.”

Thompson was sentenced in California in 2020 to eight years in prison for a similar hit-and-run crash that badly injured a pedestrian. The state released him from custody earlier this year.

Minnesota court records show that Thompson has a long history of criminal convictions in Minnesota, from fleeing a police officer to gun-related offenses. They include a history of speeding, violating traffic laws, and driving without a valid driver’s license.

Thompson’s Minnesota driver’s license was revoked in 2018 after he was convicted for fleeing police in a motor vehicle, but was reinstated in March 2023, the county attorney’s office said.

According to the criminal complaint filed Thursday in Hennepin County District Court: Thompson’s car was “weaving in and out of traffic lanes in a reckless manner” on northbound Interstate 35W moments before the June 16 crash.

A State Patrol trooper attempted to catch up to the car and engage in a traffic stop, but Thompson “abruptly cut across all four lanes of traffic and exited I-35 at the Lake Street exit ramp at a high rate of speed,” the charges said.

Authorities say Thompson ran a red light after exiting the interstate and crashed into a vehicle the five victims were riding in.

At the crash scene, police traced Thompson back to the fleeing car after finding a rental car agreement with his name on it next to the car. Two witnesses also saw Thompson flee the car and provided the police with a description.

Police found Thompson sitting on the curb of Taco Bell parking lot bleeding from a head wound. He also had blood on his hands and clothes, and was sweating profusely and appeared to be out of breath, according to the complaint.

The charges allege that Thompson first told officers, “I cut myself. This is old. This is an old cut.”

Officers then told him the cut looked recent, and he allegedly replied that the injury was from a fall earlier that night. Thompson was also walking with a limp, the charges said.

Officers escorted Thompson from the Taco Bell parking lot to the scene of the accident in a squad car. During the ride, Thompson allegedly asked officers how long it would take and said he had things to do. At the scene, a witness identified Thompson as the man she saw fleeing the crash. 

As officers interviewed Thompson, he first talked “normally” but then “quickly became extremely” sleepy, “had droopy eyelids,” and “became uncommunicative after talking” for “a period of time,” according to a search warrant.

One of the two witnesses also submitted video of the crash to Minneapolis police that allegedly shows Thompson limp toward the witness and ask for a ride out of the area, according to the federal charges against Thompson. The witness declined. 

Thompson sustained a broken hip and a laceration on his head in the crash. He was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for a few days of evaluation, and was booked into the county jail Monday afternoon.

The State Patrol said Thompson was traveling 95 miles an hour on the interstate in a 55-mile zone on the interstate. Law enforcement officials are not calling the incident a pursuit because the trooper who followed Thompson for about two miles between the 46th Street and Lake Street exits did not activate their lights or siren, said Minneapolis police.

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara has said that authorities believe Thompson was “impaired” at the time. 

Thompson was driving a Cadillac Escalade that he had picked up from Hertz car rental at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport about 9:45 p.m. that night, according to a search warrant.

Crash victims remembered

Family, friends, and the Twin Cities Muslim community remembered the crash victims as “pillars” of their community who were dedicated to their families, academics, and religion.

The young women’s families are not commenting on the case, said a representative of Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center, which has been in touch with the families.The young women were buried Monday in a funeral organized by the mosque, which is also raising money for their families at

The young women were buried Monday in a funeral organized by the mosque, which is also raising money for their families at

“These young Muslim sisters, [sic] were shining stars of hope for our future,” Khalid Omar, director at Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center, told Sahan Journal a day after the crash. “Unfortunately, their lives were cut short last night by a driver evading the police.”

Sabiriin Ali recently graduated from Edina High School and was planning to attend the University of Minnesota in the fall, said Khalid. She was also a caretaker at Dar Al Farooq.

Sahra Gesaade was a 20 year-old student at the University of Minnesota Rochester.

Salma Abdikadir was a second-year student at Normandale Community College and a teacher at Dar Al Farooq.

Sagal Hersi was a student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Siham Odhowa was a student at the University of Minnesota.

California hit and run

Thompson fled the scene of a similar accident he caused in 2018 in Montecito, California. That incident occurred on a weekday afternoon on Highway 101, about two hours west of Los Angeles. 

The highway was backed up with rush hour traffic, and Thompson decided to take the shoulder, said Kevin Weichbrod, the Santa Barbara assistant district attorney who prosecuted Thompson for the incident.

A Santa Barbara police officer spotted Thompson driving on the shoulder and pursued him. Thompson continued to drive on the shoulder and took an exit, driving toward a small beach community in Montecito. Thompson drove 55 miles per hour in a 25-mile zone, speeding in a pedestrian-heavy beach area. 

At one point, Thompson took a wide right turn and drove into Jennifer Jenson, a 58-year-old tourist who was walking near the beach with two of her friends. Jenson was thrown onto the hood of Thompson’s vehicle and then up into the air before crashing against a tree, leaving her with life-altering injuries, Weichbrod said in an interview with Sahan Journal. 

“She was in a coma for a couple of weeks,” Weichbrod said. “It’s a miracle she survived.” 

Upon hitting Jenson, Thompson lost control of the car and crashed into a retaining wall. He then fled on foot while the officers who pursued his car remained with two passengers in Thompson’s car. The passengers at first claimed not to know Thompson, and one even claimed he tried to kidnap them, according to Weisbrod. 

In reality, Weisbrod said, Thompson and his passengers had been visiting Los Angeles and staying at a hotel near the airport. Officers found 17 pounds of marijuana and $20,000 cash in their car. 

Thompson fled to St. Paul, where he was arrested. He was extradited back to California and appeared in court a-month-and-a-half after the crash. Thompson eventually pleaded guilty to evading an officer causing injury, collision hit and run causing permanent injury, and conspiracy to sell marijuana. 

Thompson was sentenced in 2020 to eight years in prison for the crash. By then, he had already served nearly two years in jail in California—time that the state credited towards his prison term. 

Under California law, inmates convicted of violent crimes can be released from prison after serving 85 percent of their sentence if they behave in custody. That would have put Thompson on track for a 2025 release date. 

However, California voters passed a proposition in 2016 giving the state Department of Corrections more authority to release inmates with good behavior earlier than usual. The new law likely played a role in Thompson’s release from prison earlier this year, Weichbrod said, adding that California law would still require Thompson to report to a parole officer until the eight-year term expired. 

Thompson served about 63 percent of his California prison term before he was released. 

In Minnesota, inmates must serve two-thirds, or about 66 percent, of their prison term before they are eligible for supervised release. Minnesota inmates released before their terms end must also report to a parole officer until the full sentence is over.

Previous Minnesota convictions

In early 2014, Ramsey County prosecutors charged Thompson with possession of a firearm without a permit. He pleaded guilty the following year and received a 60-day jail sentence. Prosecutors dropped charges in the case for altering the gun’s serial number and aiding a gang in crime. 

By June of that same year, prosecutors in the same county charged Thompson with failure to stop at a stop sign and driving with a suspended license. He later pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended license and received a sentence of 90 days in jail.

Thompson was charged in 2014 with carrying a gun without a permit and fleeing a police officer on foot. He pleaded guilty to fleeing the officer, and again received a 90-day jail sentence.

Thompson then received five years’ probation for a marijuana felony conviction. 

A 2017 incident in Ramsey County led to convictions against Thompson for fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle, a felony offense. He was also convicted of giving an officer a false name, and was sentenced to three more years of probation. 

He was convicted for speeding and driving with a revoked driver’s license for a 2018 incident in Ramsey County.

Joey Peters is a reporter for Sahan Journal. He has been a journalist for 15 years. Before joining Sahan Journal, he worked for close to a decade in New Mexico, where his reporting prompted the resignation...