Reporting Mike Binkley
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police are hoping new surveillance photos will help investigators crack an unsolved killing.
In late August, college student Hagos Melake, 26, hitched a ride in downtown St. Paul and later turned up dead.
Melake had taken a bus from his home in South St. Paul to get to Hunan Garden restaurant for food and drinks around 9 p.m. on Aug. 28. He was by himself.
About an hour before closing time, a surveillance camera caught images of two people arriving.
The lead investigator for the case, Commander Mike Salter of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s office, said one of them had a long, prominent tattoo on his or her right arm. The video isn’t clear enough to be certain if it was a man or woman.
Investigators don’t believe Melake knew the two, but at closing time there were no buses to take him back to South St. Paul, so he hitched a ride.
Around 4:30 a.m., a woman used Melake’s ATM card in north Minneapolis.
“She’s holding the bank card in her shirt,” said Salter, “so she doesn’t get her fingerprints on it.”
It took several attempts, but the woman eventually did get into Melake’s account and got away with cash. Investigators wouldn’t disclose the amount.
That was two hours before Melake’s body was discovered in Shoreview. He had been shot in the head and left in a business parking lot.
Melake’s sister, Wainy, is pleading for information from the public.
“He was a sweet fun-loving caring brother who loved his family,” she said. “Today, these evil people with no regard for human life are still walking the streets.”
Melake was a student at Inver Hills Community College where he was studying Computer Engineering. His family emigrated from the east African country of Eritrea.
Community members are supporting the family as the investigation continues.
“We cannot begin to move forward until the people responsible are held accountable,” said Wainy Melake.