A second-degree assault charge is all a Rochester man will face from a Sunday-morning incident where, police say, he entered another man’s apartment and shot him five times.
Abdusalam Omar Hussein, 38, made his first appearance on the charge in Olmsted County District Court Tuesday morning, when Judge Joseph Chase set unconditional bail at $500,000. No conditional bail was set. Hussein was arrested Sunday by Rochester police following a brief pursuit that ended in a rollover crash.
Police were called around 6:30 a.m. Sunday to an apartment complex in the 1300 block of Fourth Avenue Southeast for a report of a shooting. When officers arrived, they found a 25-year-old man who had been shot four times in the legs and once in the hand, according to court records. He was taken to Mayo Clinic Hospital-Saint Marys with non-life-threatening injuries.
The man told police he was sleeping in bed when someone, later identified as Hussein, walked into his unlocked residence, came into his bedroom, started kicking him and then shot him, according to court records.
“There was little motive given for the shooting, other than the suspect was described as intoxicated,” the complaint reads.
Around 7:20 a.m. that same day, Hussein allegedly called 911 and said that he was a child soldier suffering from a mental issue and that someone made him do it. He also told police he had a gun with him but it was unloaded, according to the complaint.
Officers were able to track Hussein’s phone and located him in the area of U.S. Highway 52 north of 55th Street Northwest. Police were able to arrest Hussein after he rolled his vehicle in a ditch. A semi-automatic Beretta handgun was taken from Hussein.
“Hussein told Sgt. Thompson that Victim had disrespected him at a party, so he went into his house and confronted him,” the complaint reads.
Why second-degree assault?
The decision by the Olmsted County Attorney’s Office to charge Hussein with a single count of second-degree assault, rather than a more serious charge such as attempted murder, has left some scratching their heads.
For example, in two past cases, people have been charged with second-degree assault for threatening someone with a sharpened stick and for breaking a glass bottle over someone’s head.
Though Hussein’s use of a gun sounds far more serious on the face of it, “Case law doesn't distinguish between a firearm and a knife or a sharpened stick or any other thing you think is a weapon,” said Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem. “They basically all get treated the same.”
Shortly after his arrest Sunday, Hussein was booked at the Olmsted County Adult Detention Center on charges of first-degree assault, two counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, false imprisonment-intentional restraint, fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle and first-degree murder premeditated.
Ostrem, in an interview Tuesday, said that when a person is taken to jail, law enforcement books them on every potential charge they think fits as a result of their initial investigation.
“When it gets to us, we now have the benefit of all the officers’ reports and then we just make a decision on what are the right charges,” Ostrem said, adding that there were a number of things that go into the decision.
Considerations include the amount of time law enforcement is legally allowed to hold someone without charging them with them a crime and the amount of information that is available to be reviewed. A criminal complaint can be amended and charges could be changed if they need to be.
In terms of penalties, Ostrem said the sentencing guidelines between attempted murder and second-degree assault are very similar.