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Sudanese community mourns weekend shooting death
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Jan 25, 2011 - 5:15:39 AM

Sudanese community mourns weekend shooting death

Published: Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011 8:27 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY Zahara Mohammad said her son was a kind boy who was not involved in gangs.

In fact, Mohammad said she had warned her son, Mohammad Hassan, 22, about getting involved with the wrong crowd.

"Even before his death, I used to tell (all four of my sons) that you guys have to be careful, with who you guys work with, with who you guys are friends," Mohammad said through an interpreter, Hilda Sasa.

Friday night, Hassan was shot in the head from point blank range and killed while riding in a car with up to nine other people on state Route 201 near 1100 West.

Akol Gabriel Joker, 20, was later arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County jail for investigation of murder and possession of a firearm by a restricted person. Police believe he was the gunman.

A second man, Idrees Adam Idrees, 21, was also arrested and booked into jail for investigation of murder.

All three men were Sundanese refugees. Joker is a documented gang member, according to police, but the shooting was not believed to be gang related.

Sunday night, members of the Sudanese community gathered at Mohammad's Salt Lake City apartment to console each other and remember Hassan.

Mohammad said her son had lived in Utah for about four years. He liked music and sports. But he had trouble holding a job, she said.

"He was a kind boy. He was a loving son that loves everybody," Mohammad said through her translator, Sasa. "He was always a nice boy and he's a respected boy. And anytime he did a mistake, he apologized and said, 'I'm sorry.'"

A possible motive for the shooting has not been revealed by investigators. Salt Lake County Jail booking records also offer little information about a motive.

Hassan's mother said she did not know the men her son was with that night.

People from Sudan make up one of the largest refugee groups in Utah. An estimated 750 Sudanese refugees settled in Utah between 2000 and 2009.

Dedi Ramba, secretary of the Sudanese Community in Utah, said the majority of refugees from Sudan are very productive citizens. He said they are in disbelief over the weekend violence.

"Just can't figure out why a fellow Sudanese would do that to a fellow Sudanese," Ramba said.

Although the Sudanese community does not have its own statistics, Ramba said he had heard from police that a growing number of refugees were becoming involved in gang activity.

"It is a rising problem in our community," he conceded.

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