MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Rep. Keith Ellison has penned a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, calling for a Department of Justice investigation into a possible hate crime against five Somali-American men in Minneapolis.

According to police, the incident occurred in the early morning hours of Wednesday, June 29 after five young Somali-American men finished a game of basketball. Having earlier attended a Ramadan Iftar dinner, they were also dressed in traditional robes. They then began driving to a Mosque for an early morning prayer when they were confronted by a gunman on the intersection of 14th Ave. SE and 6th Street SE.

The gunman then fired bullets into the vehicle, striking two of the men who were seated in the back of the vehicle. However, before the shooting began, the suspect allegedly made derogatory comments about Muslims.

The suspect or suspects have not been located or identified by police.

In the letter, Ellison requests that Lynch open a hate crime investigation into the incident.

“This violent incident appears to be a religiously-motivated attack on these Muslim youth,” Ellison said. “Therefore, I believe this case needs to be investigated as a hate crime. The attack against the five young Somali men is of major concern to my community as Minneapolis is home to the largest Somali community outside of Somalia. With the rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric across the country, crimes such as this understandably spread fear among the entire Muslim community. This incident was especially troubling for the community as it occurred during the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims gather in large groups to pray and celebrate the breaking of their fast each night.”

The day after the shooting, the Council on American Islamic Relations demanded swift action to find those responsible and called on police and the FBI to investigate the shooting.

Police also confirmed the shooting is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

Anyone with information about this case is urged to call 911, the MPD Tip Line at 612-692-TIPS (8477) or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. People can also anonymously text their tips to 847411 (TIP411). First type “MPD” in the text’s body, then a space, and then the information.

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