A jury has convicted a white man of attempted murder for shooting and wounding two Somali-American men who were on their way to Ramadan prayers in Minneapolis last year.
Anthony Sawina, 26, of Lauderdale, Minnesota, was found guilty on Thursday on all nine counts he faced, including attempted first-degree murder.
The shooting happened last June in the Dinkytown area near the University of Minnesota.
Sawina, who was with a group of friends, shot and wounded the two men, who were on their way to prayers after playing basketball.
“This was shooting directly at people who were sitting in a car, defenceless,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said, according to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR).
“We’re just glad that the driver himself wasn’t hit. Although we understand the bullet went right by his head,” Freeman said, as he told the jurors they had made the right decision.
The victims were among a group of friends, at least one of whom was wearing a traditional robe.
A witness said she heard Sawina call the group “f*****g Muslims”.
CAIR, a US Muslim civil rights group, described the attack as Islamophobic.
Sawina maintained that he fired in self-defence, however he did not call the emergency services at the time of the incident or later to report that he had used his gun in self-defence, according to MPR.
The defence lawyer told jurors that the idea that Sawina planned to try and kill the men was “nuts”.
But Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Patrick Lofton argued that premeditation can happen in a short period of time.
“[Sawina] said, ‘I have a permit to carry and I’m going to kill you all’,” Lofton said.
Sawina is scheduled to be sentenced June 12.