ST. LOUIS: The Somali Muslim operator of a home health care business gunned down three people who worked there — including his business partner — Thursday afternoon before taking his own life, police and others said. The shots were fired about 1:40 p.m. at A K Home Health Care in the Cherokee Place Business Incubator at 2715 Cherokee Street. A friend of the gunman said, “He told me for two or three years, ‘I’m going to kill people and then myself,’ but nobody took him seriously.”
StLouis Today Police identified the gunman as Ahmed Dirir, 59, of the 900 block of Carr Avenue. The victims were Khadra Muse, 44, of the 1000 block of Indian Circle Drive in Olivette; Seaeed Abdulla, 29, of the 700 block of Cole Street; and Bernice Solomon-Redd, 54, of the 2400 block of Ridge Avenue in East St. Louis.
St. Louis Police Capt. Michael Sack said surveillance video showed the shooter opened fire after having a brief argument with others inside the business. “We don’t know if this is a prior thing that carried over,” Sack said. Sack said the victims all appeared to have connections to the health care business.
Police sources and relatives at the scene said Abdulla was married to Dirir’s step-daughter and that Muse and Abdulla were also related by marriage. A police source said Dirir had a single gunshot wound to his temple. Abdulla was found dead still seated at a desk and the two women were found on either side of him, the source said. They had been hit in the face and torso by at least a dozen bullets.
Shortly after the shooting, a woman tried to walk to the scene before police turned her away. She openly mourned and eventually fell to the sidewalk. Her nephew, Mohammed Ismail, 21, explained: “All of the people, these are our family.” Another man with them said they were from Somalia.
Charles Kirkwood, a construction business owner from north St. Louis County, said he helped Dirir and Muse start the business about five years ago. Word had spread in the African immigrant community that Kirkwood knew the system and was willing to help others. “Ahmed was very bright, he had a master’s degree. He was brilliant. He must have just snapped,” he said. (Sudden Jihad Syndrome)
Mohamed Noor, 34, of St. Louis, said he used to work with Dirir. Noor stood outside a Somali-owned grocery near where the shooting took place Thursday evening with several others who said they were heartbroken over the shootings.
Noor said Dirir was still reeling from a difficult divorce from his first wife and was stressed over financial problems. Dirir had married again, friends said. “He told me for two or three years, ‘I’m going to kill people and then myself,’ but nobody took him seriously,” Noor said.
But attorney Michael Graff, whose office was located inside the same building, said he frequently heard shouting coming from inside the health care business.
The 4,000-square-foot building is a former movie theater, said Anne McCullough, who works with the Cherokee Street Business Association. The building is home to five to 10 small companies, including an attorney’s office and an African bazaar.