Body of missing Somali-American imam found in vehicle

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Body of missing Somali-American imam found in vehicle

The body of a man believed to be the head of a popular Islamic mosque on the northeast side was found inside a vehicle in woodland at a business on the north side.

As many as 200 people converged near the intersection of Joyce and Windsor avenues shortly after 3:30 p.m. Friday, when word spread among the Somali community that Sheikh Mohamed Hassan Adam, longtime Imam of the Masjid Abu Hurairah Mosque, had been found deceased inside the vehicle. .

According to Deputy Chief Tim Becker, the official identification of the body had not been confirmed as police awaited the Franklin County coroner’s office.

But many members of the Somali community who came to the site said the body found was that of Adam, and some of them said they saw it.

Columbus Police cordoned off an area just west of Joyce Avenue that led to a gate leading to Operation All-City Auto Recycling, a junkyard with tall trees bordered by tall tin fences. Homicide detectives were on the scene Friday evening.

Adam last led an evening service two days ago, the last time anyone could remember seeing him.

“When he didn’t come back, his wife called him and he never answered. Everyone tried to reach him, but they couldn’t find him,” said Hassan Omar, president of the Somali Community Association of Ohio, who was at the scene. .

It was then that the well-connected Somali community, considered the second largest in the country behind the Minneapolis area, mobilized teams of people to search for him, “to look around town, the backlots, the back alleys of the neighborhood. , dumps, garages, ”said Omar.

According to the police, relatives of the missing people reported Thursday around 2:30 p.m. The report included a photo of Adam and a photo of the vehicle a yellow van was using to transport children. The word “students” was on the back.

Some news outlets reported the disappearance, and it was posted Thursday and Friday on social media.

“I think someone had probably seen the display and the photo of the missing person and the van which was distinctive and called the police,” the detective said. Lisa Moody.

Becker said police did not want to disrupt the potential crime scene before techs and detectives could investigate. He said it could take hours to verify identity.

“We haven’t really come close to the body because we don’t want to corrupt any evidence,” Becker said.

A woman present at the scene was taken distraught before falling to the ground and passing out. A team of paramedics from Columbus Fire took her to an area hospital.

Several dozen people knelt on the ground, facing north, in prayer for their leader, a father, a husband and a businessman.

“We know about faith and religious beliefs,” Becker said at a large rally. “We are speeding up the process so as not to hamper religious beliefs.”

Several people shouted their thanks to Becker for respecting their beliefs and faith.

Omar described Adam as a well-educated and valued man who dedicated his life to helping others.

“During the pandemic, he was providing free food to the needy. During Hurricane Katrina, he helped lead efforts to get food, clothing and supplies from Ohio to Louisiana,” he said. -he declares.

Adam has been actively involved in Focus Learning Academy of Northern Columbus, a charter school primarily serving Somali students.

“Almost all of the children here, he taught them the Quran from start to finish,” said Abdi Omar, 29, explaining why so many people had come forward to pay their respects.

He also established community sports leagues for soccer and basketball.

“We didn’t have any money. It was free for us. He took us on a trip,” Omar said.

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