MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Reaction has been strong to a disturbing crime involving a 10-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by a stranger.

Minneapolis police say it happened Sunday evening in the hallway of an apartment building in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood. Ahmed Hersi Abdi, 34, was arrested less than 24 hours later, thanks to surveillance video. Court records show he has a history of mental illness.

Amaal Daud lives in the Riverside Plaza complex where the assault happened. She’s grateful that surveillance video helped police make a quick arrest.

“I couldn’t believe it. I have kids that age,” she said. “It was a surprise to me. I was shocked when I heard that. I don’t
know, maybe some sick person did this, but I couldn’t believe it.”

A criminal complaint states that neighbors heard screams on the third floor hallway. When they found a young girl crying, they ran to get help from two off-duty Minneapolis police officers.

The victim told police that a man, later identified as Abdi, followed her in and out of an elevator, and as she walked down a hallway he asked for her name. The complaint states he then “extended his hand to her. When she shook his hand, he refused to let go.”

A woman who lives nearby told us this is especially disturbing to her, because she was sexually assaulted in her early teens.

“I’m sure it will have an effect on her, like I have had to go through therapy. And I still am, because I want nothing to do with men,” Susan Welshinger said.

Dr. Cheryl Bemel is a psychologist with Allina Health Clinics who’s worked with child rape victims.

“They may not understand the heinous nature of this act,” Dr. Bemel said.

She hopes the 10-year-old girl is encouraged to talk about her thoughts and feelings.

“Any support they give her — let her know, we all know, that she of course did nothing wrong, and that
she will heal from this, but it will take some time and effort,” she said.

Minneapolis police say that those off-duty officers were working as security officers at the apartment complex. They quickly pulled the surveillance camera video and recognized the man who approached the girl. He’s someone who often visited the neighborhood. Residents of the building also recognized him.

Ahmed Hersi Abdi was arrested in St. Paul, and is now charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct. Hennepin County court records show he has been hospitalized for mental illness and civilly committed, as recently as November 2014.