Reporting Bill Hudson
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police said the victim of an apparent robbery attempt at the Franklin Avenue Library is now in the hospital and paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in the back while brushing his teeth in the library’s bathroom.
The incident happened as patrons were reading in a room nearby in the basement of the building.
After hearing the shot ring out from a library bathroom late Wednesday morning, there was a mad scramble among library staff to find out what had happened. Senior librarian Nancy Thornbury ran to the men’s restroom.
“We heard the noise and we ran to the hallway,” Thornbury said. “And there was the victim in the bathroom.”
Thornbury and a few others found a Sudanese man, who’s homeless, on the floor slouched over.
Thornbury recalls the man muttering something about how he was going to die. The 42-year-old victim asked if there was a Muslim who could offer him prayers. That’s when another of the library employees, Ahmed Ahmed, came to his side.
“And he requested if I can recite the last rites for him,” Ahmed said. “When I recited the last rites for him, he got some comfort from that and that’s when he opened up.”
The victim told police his attacker mumbled something just prior to shooting the victim in the back. If it was attempted robbery, investigators said nothing was stolen from the victim.
“What led up to the shooting, the victim has no idea,” Minneapolis Police Lt. Mike Fossum said. “There was no argument, no cross words exchanged. The victim wasn’t sure even if it was a robbery.”
The Franklin Avenue library is wired with security cameras on the ceilings. Police are reviewing recordings to see if the suspect appears in the camera shots. There are also private security guards on duty when the library is busiest. However, the shooting occurred just prior to the start of the guard’s afternoon shift.
Sgt. Bill Palmer said doctors think the victim will be paralyzed for life.
Police said they are searching for a man about 6 feet tall, wearing a red T-shirt. Police added that the suspect is also homeless and a frequent visitor at both the Franklin Avenue library and the central library downtown Minneapolis.
It’s possible that he goes by the street name, “Xavier.”
Anyone with information is asked to call 612-673-2941.